· Indonesia-Malaysia


This is just a record of the views of a Sundanese of Sundanese kept for possible reference material.


(Edited Mar.3. 2010 Spelling errors are the original author’s.)
The following are comments of how a Sundanese see his people.
“I believe Sundanese in general are more identify themself to Islamic faith rather than Javanese. Javanese are more deeply Hindu influenced and love to syncretize.

And I agree with the article; Sundanese are not as strongly attached to Islam as Madurese, Aceh, Minangkabau, or Melayu. However I find more and more Sundanese grew pious and religiously devout in recent decades. For example more Sundanese women wear hijab/veil compared to in the 50s-70s. Yet to add another puzzle, it is well known, and kind a public “hush-hush” issue that Sundanese women are known to be one of the most sexually liberated women among Indonesian ethnicity, compared to Javanese, Minangkabau, or Aceh. It has been a kind of embarassing social phenomenon called “Kawin Kontrak” that many (no offense), sexually repressed Arabs men from Middle East seeks “temporary wife” in Indonesia for a month or so, and they can have it in certain Sundanese villages. Btw.., common Sundanese are also known to be beautiful people in Indonesian standard, probably because they have lighter skin than the average.

Despite many of us ready to identify ourself to Islam, some paradox or complexity might occur. Somehow Sundanese are strongly attached and retain our Animist-Dynamist-Shamanist tradition. I believe the awe and veneration to the power of nature is our true “religion”. Our rice cultivation tradition has left deep mark in our psyche, as muslim Sundanese farmer sometimes still pray for blessing and lovingly venerated Nyi Sri Pohaci, the Sundanese rice goddess. And throughout history even Hinduism did not left significant mark on Sundanese as strong as the Javanese counterpart. I find Sundanese are somehow are more laid back, relax, easy going, kind, generous, peaceful, not very warlike, don’t have fiery ambition, nor strive for excelence and diligent as Javanese counterpart. Some of this traits might be mistaken as “lazyness” or even “indiference”. There’s never been Sundanese-based empire throughout Indonesian History. The known major empire is Malay Srivijaya and Javanese Majapahit. Both of those ethnics groups are somehow expansionist.

Probably that explain why despite our large population (Sundanese is the second majority ethnic group after Javanese), Sundanese never soars and rise in national level compared to let say Javanese, Minangkabau, Malay Palembang, Bugis, Makassar, or Batak.

Sundanese are also more egalitarian, liquid, and individual than strongly stratified society of Javanese and Balinese. Sundanese often yawned at the rigid formality and tight hierarchy of social class and social order as demonstrated by Javanese. It is believed that rigid and formal social stratification was imported through Hinduism caste package embraced by Javanese and Balinese long time ago, yet it’s lacked in Sundanese society.

In religious matter, modern Sundanese strongly identify themself to Islam than their Javanese neighbour. However I believe the rest of silent Sunda majority are more attached to their ancient Animist-Hindu legacy. If we can find among Javanese populaton; Catholic Javanese enclave in Muntilan, Yogyakarta and Klaten, or Hindu revival Javanese in Karanganyar and Tengger-Bromo area; it’s almost impossible to encounter Christian Sundanese. I’m a Sundanese-Javanese and throughout my life never meet any Christian Sundanese, while I have quite a lot Catholics Javanese friends. Modern Sundanese are almost overwhelmingly Muslims. I think despite Sundanese homeland and urban center in Western Java once fell as Netherland Indies Colonial base (Batavia/Jakarta, Buitenzorg/Bogor, and Bandung), the proselityzing effort of Christianity upon Sundanese population were failed or never successful since long time ago. Why..? because simply we don’t buy it. While Javanese basicly are love to syncretize and more readily swayed to adopt new faiths, Sundanese is a hard-sell. To shows another puzzling ambiguation, modern muslim Sundanese even could still mourned the fall of Hindu Sunda Pajajaran kingdom to muslim Banten Sultanate forces, yet they identify themself as muslim and proud of it. How could they mourned Islamic victory while themself are muslim? Intriguing isn’t it..?

This post has been edited by Majapahitans: Yesterday, 06:52 PM”

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