There are 3 unique Easter traditions in Indonesia you should see when visiting this beautiful country. Although Indonesia doesnt have as many Easter traditions as some parts of the West, there are however significant Catholic and Christian populations that do commemorate the holy season right here in this vibrant archipelago, Indonesia.
Actually, the basic core of the faith revolves around the Bible and the Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion. However, depending on the culture and province, some traditional customs and rituals may vary.
Furthermore, Easter festivities in major cities of Indonesia such as Jakarta, Surabaya, and Manado have embraced more westernized customs. Those who celebrate Easter would usually participate in rituals held in a church, and then spend the whole day with all family and friends feasting on good food. Also, they adopt western traditions such as the Easter Bunny and the Easter Egg hunt. However, in some parts of Indonesia, the rituals and customs of Easter may have a more unique representation.
Here are 3 unique Easter traditions in Indonesia you should see:
1. Semana Santa
In the town of Larantuka, East Flores, the local community celebrates Semana Santa, also known as Holy Week. This four day ritual initiates with Rabu Trewa (Ash Wednesday) where congregations will gather in chapels to pray and remember the betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas Iscariot. In fact, this is also a time where worshippers mourn and reflect in order to purify their soul. Therefore the town transforms into a Town of Mourning.
On Maundy Thursday, the worshippers would participate in the Tikam Turo ritual where the following days 7 km procession is prepared by placing candles all along the road. Another ritual on this day takes place in the chapel of Tuan Ma (the Virgin Mary), where the sacred statue of the Virgin Mary will be bathed and dressed in a piece of black, purple, or blue velvet cloth to signify their mourning state.
Eventually, the whole ritual reaches its peak on Good Friday or Sesta Vera which becomes the day of crucifixion. The climax of Sesta Vera is indicated when the statue of Jesus Christ is carried and placed at the center of the ritual beside the statue of Mother Mary (Mater Dolorosa — the mourning mother).
Then, the following Sabtu Santo (Holy Saturday) and Easter Sunday (the day of Resurrection) mark the end of the whole Holy Week rituals.
Kure is actually an Easter tradition celebrated by community of Kote in the town of Noemuti, North Central Timor, Nusa Tenggara Timur. On Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, the Catholics will walk as pilgrims from one house to another to pray together and reflect on the Passion of Jesus Christ. Hence, they can experience how Jesus Christ undertook the trial.
Moreover, the word Kure itself is derived from the Latin word currere that means to run or to walk. Obviously, Parishioners say that this tradition is a legacy of Portuguese missionaries who introduced Christianity in 1642.
The ritual begins with the cleaning process of crucifixes and statues of Jesus Christ and Mother Mary and ends with the offerings of money, fruits, vegetables and palm dedicated to God. Later, these offerings are distributed to the pilgrims, prayer groups, and other attendees of the ritual symbolizing their sincere will to share with others.
3. Momento Mori
In Central Kalimantan, this unique Easter ritual of Momento Mori is celebrated by the Christian communities. Momento Mori is derived from Latin for remember you will die. Also, it is believed that it was introduced in the 19th century, during the Dutch colonization.
This ritual is obviously carried out on Holy Saturday involving the congregation of family members at the burial sites of the loved ones. The whole family members will gather throughout the night until dawn on the following day when they will enlighten candles and arrange flowers above the grave sites. Meanwhile, at the break of dawn on Easter Sunday, a tent will be provided by the church for pilgrims to continue their overall Easter celebrations and worship rituals.
All those 3 unique Easter traditions in Indonesia you should see basically bring the same spirit of commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, each region has adopted the spirit to its own unique tradition. Then, they blend and make a very unique ritual that is very interesting to join and experience with all the locals. Please, share your own unique experiences during Easter.