Festivals and Celebrations in Indonesia
Daily Life :: Festivals & Celebrations

Birth of Prophet Muhammad: Islam is Indonesia's dominant religion with approximately 86% of its population identifying as Muslims, making it the most populous Muslim-majority nation in the world. In February, Muslims commemorate the birth of Prophet Muhammad with a week-long festival with gamelan performances and a parade of floats.

Waisak: (Vesak) commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha. During the full moon in May or June, Indonesian Buddhists observe Waisak at Borobudur, the largest Buddhist monument in the world. The ceremony is centered at the three Buddhist temples by walking from Mendut to Pawon and ending at Borobudur.

Galungan: Hari Raya Galungan or simply Galungan, a Hindu holiday celebrates the coming of the gods and the ancestral spirits to dwell in the homes of their descendants. Evil spirits are driven off by incantations and fire crackers. The festivities are characterized by offerings, dances and new clothes.

Kesodo Ceremony: In August, hundreds of thousands Tenggerese gather at the active crater of Mount Bromo in East Java to present offerings of rice, fruit, vegetables, flowers, livestock and other local produce to the God of the Mountain in a ceremony called the Kesodo Ceremony. They ask for blessings and a year free of eruptions.

Toraja Funeral Ceremony: The Toraja people are rice farmers and live in the mountainous areas of South Sulawesi. They hold fascinating and elaborate funeral rites to send the spirit of the dead to the afterworld and to prevent misfortune on the deceased's family. The ceremony is often held weeks or months after the death so that sufficient funds can be raised to cover the funeral expenses. During the waiting period, the corpse "lives" with the family in their tongkonan.

Toraja funeral rites spread over several days and involve hundreds of extended family members and guests from the nearby villages. Chanting and dance are performed to honor the deceased and to bid farewell. It is not until the first water buffalo is sacrificed that the deceased is considered dead. Torajans believe that the soul of the deceased will ride the soul of the slaughtered buffalo to the afterworld. The dead is placed in a hand-crafted coffin and buried in a cave or hole carved into cliff walls or hung on a cliff. A wood-carved effigy is usually placed in the cave looking out over the land.

National Geographic Video: Sulawesi Funeral