The Banjarese of Indonesia
The origin of the Banjarese (who are also known as the "river culture") resulted from the mixing of Javanese and Malay cultures. Long ago, they were united by a ruler who professed faith in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. It was then that the kingdom of Banjar grew, and the tribe of the Banjarese originated. As a result of their trading and seafaring way of life, the Banjarese gradually expanded from Kalimantan to other parts of Borneo.
In general, the Banjarese are friendly and non-threatening. They speak a local Malay language called Banjar, a part of the Malayo-Polynesian language family. In addition, most of the people understand Bahasa Indonesian.
What are their lives like?
The Banjarese traditionally made a living from seafaring and trading, but now they are mostly farmers and fishermen. Although rice is the major crop grown, much is still imported, usually from Thailand. Other Banjarese are involved in building, with stone, coral sand, and clay being extracted for use as building materials.
The staple Banjarese food is rice, and side dishes consist of all kinds of fish and vegetable curry soups. In everyday life, lunch is the most important meal to the Banjarese.
As rural people, the Banjarese live mainly in villages along the coasts or roads. In addition to the villages, there are also plantation settlements. Most of the homes are thatch-roofed houses built on stilts four to eight feet off the ground. Homes of the wealthier, however, have plank floors and tile roofs.
Traditionally, the Banjarese were organized into a somewhat feudal social organization with a distinct division between the common people and nobility. The chief of the district was a nobleman. Class distinctions still exist today, but the nobility has now been replaced by appointed and elected officials who are subject to a parliament.
The typical Banjarese household consists of the husband, his wife, and their children. Marriages have traditionally been arranged by the parents and are governed by Islamic law. According to Islamic tradition, a man is permitted to have as many as four wives. However, a majority of the Banjarese practice monogamy (having only one spouse). Couples are married by registering with the local imam (local Islamic leader).
Indonesia has more than eight million farmers who do not own their own land. To those willing to move from overcrowded Java, Bali, and Madura to the less developed islands, the government offers free land, housing, and other assistance. In some areas, including Kalimantan, this has caused problems as migrants have moved into the area.
What are their beliefs?
The Banjarese of Indonesia are still 100% Muslim and observe Islamic religious holidays. Nevertheless, some Hindu-based ideas linger, such as old beliefs in spirits of the soil and seeking relief through medicine men. In addition, many practices, especially weddings, are actually Hindu-Buddhist in content but mixed with Islamic rites.
What are their needs?
See also the following Group:
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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