Followers of Sunda Wiwitan, one of the countless indigenous faiths in Indonesia, have survived colonial oppression and purges of non-official religions by the authoritarian New Order regime. The Jakarta Post writer Corry Elyda takes a look at how the small communities scattered across West Java and Banten provinces have stood the test of time.

by Corry Elyda

Braving a night drizzle and chill, people from all walks of life flocked to Paseban Tri Panca Tunggal, an iconic cultural center of Kuningan, a hilly West Java town 245 kilometers east of Jakarta, for the ritual sacrifice of a cow. After a while, the congregation proceeded to the iconic complex’s main building. Women were dressed in kebaya (traditional blouses) and batik while the men were clad in black uniforms and sporting the distinctive Sundanese hat. That night’s main event was a mass service and sermon delivered by Prince Djatikusuma, the supreme leader of Akur Sunda Wiwitan Cigugur — the main sect of the Sunda Wiwitan named after the Kuningan enclave — a local faith that retains a small but loyal following across West Java and Banten. The whole ritual was a prelude to a series of intricate events celebrating the 185th birthday of Gebang Prince Sa...