Nothing is black and white here
October 12, 2012 1:21 AM   Subscribe

[There] is a glaring contradiction in the fact that Gunung Kemukus, a mass ritual of adultery and sex, is going on in the middle of Java, the demographic heart of the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. Of course, the ritual isn’t Islam as most would recognise it. Instead, it’s emblematic of Indonesia’s – and especially Java’s – syncretic mix of Islam with earlier Hindu, Buddhist and animist beliefs. But what is truly surprising is that even while Indonesia undergoes a steady shift towards more orthodox Islam, the ritual on Gunung Kemukus is exploding in popularity. It’s a quintessentially Indonesian contradiction.
posted by barnacles (4 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

In his book Beyond Faith, V.S. Naipul discusses how the spread of Islam also imposed the adoption of Arab (Bedouin) culture and history on non-Arab countries and these sorts of contradictions arise more from the clash of culture than from anything inherent in Islam.
posted by three blind mice at 1:55 AM on October 12, 2012

I can't be the only one with this song in my head? That and Pon Farr.

This is fascinating, though. Given how 'grrar' some of the Indonesian muslim groups are (and it is the 10th anniversary of the Bali Bombings today), I'm surprised it's not more of a flashpoint than it says.

Humanity is just so infinitely diverse in so many combinations.
posted by Mezentian at 4:46 AM on October 12, 2012

Reminds me of the stuff I read about Islamic pig farmers in rural Morocco who persisted in eating and raising pork the way their pre-Islamic ancestors did right up until the mid-19th Century. It also reminds me of how my European history professor described the conversion of Clovis & the Franks to Christianity as, "Instant Christians - just add water."

Mass religious conversions rarely happen in line with orthodox religious views, the people who convert this way usually go about doing things the way they always did them, and there's always some hangover from earlier beliefs and practices, even after many hundreds of years. See also: the Kaaba & Christmas trees.
posted by snottydick at 8:54 AM on October 12, 2012

A mass ritual of adultery and sex is going on the heart of Java...

I thought this article would be about Larry Ellison's boat. However this was a fascinating read anyway. Thanks.
posted by humanfont at 11:15 AM on October 12, 2012

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