The Komering of Indonesia
The Komering are divided into two main groups, the Komering Ilur, located around their central town of Ayuagung, and the Komering Ulu, located around the town of Baturaja. They are descendants of their neighbors, the Lampung and Batak peoples.
Before the seventh century, the island of Sumatra was controlled by the powerful Buddhist Kingdom of Sriwijaya. Later, the influence of Islam came through Indian and Malaysian traders. Today 99% of the Komering claim to be Muslims, although animism is also prevalent. This Mulsim Animist mix has created a strong religious culture among the people.
The first language of the Komering is called Bahasa Komering, but the national language Bahasa Indonesian is taught in the schools. As many as 20,000 Komering have migrated to Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia located on the nearby island of Java.
What are their lives like?
The land where the Komering live is generally flat and swampy, perfect for rice farming. The diet of most Indonesians includes rice served with meat, fish, or vegetables. The meat is usually water buffalo, beef, or chicken. Pork is never eaten since it is forbidden for Musims.
Among the Komering, the father is the head of his household and may have more than one wife. The wife is a homemaker who, together with her children, tends to the household chores. Traditional clothing is a colorful skirt, worn by both men and women, called a sarong.
Oil, coal, tin and gold are some of the riches harvested in south Sumatra. Rubber and logging are also important to the economy, therefore, there are probably many Komering who work as miners and loggers also.
Komering houses line the banks of the Komering River. These houses may only consist of a sleeping room and a large living room. The living room, which may also serve as the kitchen, usually contains a rectangular hearth filled with clay and ashes. Their houses generally stand on stilts about 1.8 meters high. Families use the space underneath for cattle stalls or chicken coops, or to store tools and firewood. The floors and walls are made of timber or flattened bamboo. The roofs are covered with with clay tiles or with thatch made out of palm leaves.
What are their beliefs?
Although the Komering are regarded as being very difficult to reach, there have been some recent encouraging developments. Today, there are seven mission agencies working among them. A few Komering churches have been planted, and numerous community development projects started.
What are their needs?
The demonic strongholds over the Komering are very powerful. Despite some Christian influence, they remain fervent in the Muslim faith. Political pressure also hinders the people from considering new religious practices. There is no Christian radio or television programming available in this area of Sumatra. Neither is the Bible available in the komerin language.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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