Updated 10 months ago

Would you like to have an insight of the Indonesian lifestyle and how to behave in the Indonesian society? Find out in this article.

Islam in Java

The Indonesian culture is very diverse and varies from one island to another. In Java, in particular, Islam shapes the local population's lifestyle while politics has the least influence on them. Every day, Java's streets are filled with the sounds of prayers. You will be delighted to know that Javanese are very tolerant people. Hence, you shall have no trouble in adapting there, whatever your religious convictions are.

Moreover, shops and local administrations are likely to close earlier on Friday afternoons. Javanese also celebrate the end of Ramadan. Note that 80% of the island's population consists of Muslims, but you will also find many Hindus, Buddhists and Catholics.

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Javanese have also adopted rituals associated with animism and ancient Indian kingdoms beliefs, which result in various celebrations such as Selamatan, ceremonial meals regarding rice harvest, etc.

Hinduism in Bali

The Balinese, on their side, have chosen the Agama Hindu Dharma which is a local form of Hinduism. Most of them have turned to Hinduism, mixing with indigenous beliefs and Buddhism. But Bali's population also consists of a few Buddhists, Muslims, and Catholics.

The Agama Hindu Dharma lifestyle gives the opportunity to people to make simple ritual offerings. But there are also more complex ceremonies and rituals. For foreigners, the Balinese lifestyle should definitely make a memorable cultural experience.


Here are some tips on dos and don'ts which will give you an idea of how you should behave in the Indonesian society:

  • Do not give and take anything with your left hand, the latter being considered as unclean.
  • Do not touch a child's head as that part of his or her body is considered to be the seat of the soul.
  • Do not get excited! Stay calm in all situations in Indonesia and anywhere else in Asia.
  • Remove your shoes before entering your host's house.
  • Wear decent clothes. The locals may get offended by little bikini tops and shorts worn by ladies and shirtless boys or men.
  • Public displays of affection are contrary to Indonesian customs.
  • When you sit down, make sure your feet are not touching anyone around.
  • Hands on hips induce a challenge, especially when you are talking to someone.
  • You can greet an Indonesian national by shaking hands with him or her or by nodding.
  • If an Indonesian national asks to take a picture of you with his camera or phone, accept it. They consider it an honor to take pictures of foreigners.
  • Loudly laughs are considered to be a sign of anger or embarrassment. If you are laughing loudly with an Indonesian national on the phone, he or she might believe to have made a mistake or said something wrong.
  • If an Indonesian offers you a gift, accept it with enthusiasm. Saying the common “Oh, you shouldn’t have!” would make you seem to be an uneducated person.
  • When talking to Indonesian nationals, choose subjects such as tourism or family. Avoid topics such as politics or international aid.

 Useful links: - Indonesia Forum 
Indonesia Point

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