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Traditionally the contracting labourers from Indonesia were Moslims with manners and customs of Hindu-Buddhist origen, dating from the pre-Islamitic period. In fact their religion was a combination of the Javanism and the Islam. These people at that time had little knowledge about the geographical orientation of Suriname with respect to Mekka. They faced the West as in Indonesia when praying.

At a later stage some of them realized that Mekka is not at the West of Suriname, but at the North-East. Some of them changed the praying direction, and others kept the original one as in Indonesia. Two groups were created, namely the West-prayers and the East-prayers. The West-prayers still keep the traditional Javanese culture in combination with the Islam and they pray to the West as respect for their ancestors. Some of the East-prayer abandoned the traditional Javanese culture, since in their opinion it is conflicting with the Islam.

Wisma Budhi Dharma, a temple of the Javanism
Photo: Copyright 2002 Moekiran A. Amatali

Islamitic Mosque
Photo: Copyright 2002 Moekiran A. Amatali

During the last decenia several religious organizations were founded to practice the Javanism. Currently these organizations are united in the Federation of Javanism Religion in Suriname. In the Javanism ancient pre-Hindu, Hindu and Buddhist elements are integrated as well as the Javanese manners and customs. A central issue is the life cycle, namely the origen of the living human being (pre-conception), the life on earth and the mission of life. Due to their idea about God and the creation of life they have certain ideas about human being and their place in the Universe. Since certain rituals are part of practicing Javanism, some people qualify this as mysticism.

Currently there are also Javanese people practicing the Christian religion. In 1900 Christian missionairs started with missions among the Javanese contracting laborers. The Catholic Church started in 1921. Currently there are several churches where mainly Javanese people are practicing the Christian relegion.

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Stichting Surinaams Museum i.s.m. Directoraat Cultuur en Vereniging Herdenking Javaanse Immigratie, 1990. Javanen in Suriname. Paramaribo, 32 p.p.

Sarmo, J.J. and Vruggink, H.D., 1992. Traditie en vernieuwing. In:van Binnendijk, C. and Faber P. (Ed.), Sranan, Cultuur in Suriname. Vaco N.V., uitgeversmaatschappij. Paramaribo, p.p. 50-63.

Mulder, N., 1998. Mysticism in Java, Ideology in Indonesia. The Pepin Press. Amsterdam, p.p.168.

Last time updated: 29 oktober 2002
Copyright 2002-2005 Moekiran A. Amatali