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Indonesia - Culture Overview

Indonesia

The culture of Indonesia has took its current shape molded by several influences that have been prevalent in the land, as a result of the long process of interaction and acculturation between original indigenous customs and a multitude of foreign influences.
Nestled between the ancient sea trading routes between Far East and Middle East, Indonesian culture, too a large extent has imbibed much of its daily practices and art forms from the Hindu, Buddhist, Confucianism and Islamic influences. These connections are clearly evident mostly in its many trading cities.

The kaleidoscopic cultural hue of Indonesia is largely cosmopolitan and need to be distinguished from the original. The complex nature of this culture can be easily gazed by various lines of faiths adopted by people here, for example: Agama Hindu Dharma, a denomination of Hinduism is now practiced by 93% of Balinese. Other examples are the fusion of Islam with Hindu in Javanese Abangan belief, the fusion of Hinduism, Buddhism and animism in Bodha, the fusion of Hinduism and animism in Kaharingan, and many others.

With the diverse influences, shaping up the perspective of the Indonesian people, their lifestyle and values, the impact of the cultural fusion is also noticeable in Indonesian art forms. For instances, wayang- a traditional form of theatre show performed with puppets was used to spread Hinduism and Islam among villagers in Java. Similarly, in various Javanese and Balinese dances, often stories about old Buddhist and Hindu kingdoms are told. In Sumatra, especially in its Minangkabau and Aceh regions, one can see direct architectural inspiration from the Islamic art forms and architectures.

As far as the westernization of culture of Indonesia is concerned, an imprint of it though cannot be ruled out, but it is mostly limited to modern entertainment, such as television shows, movies and songs. One of the major influences in this sphere are the Bollywood songs and movies.

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