If the world would be a 70s Bollywood movie, India and Indonesia would be the long lost brothers who were separated in an earthquake during their childhood. India and Indonesia are separated by a huge distance but connected through a strange cultural connection that has, even more strangely, survived over centuries amidst political and religious expansion.
In many ways, Indonesia seems like the mirror reflection of India itself; a country steeped under layers and layers of different global cultures, making it a melting pot of different cultures, religions, sects, etc. and thus making it one of the most colorful places on God’s green Earth.
Today, we take a look at the insanely ‘multicultural, but really Indian at heart’ Indonesia, to revel in the glorious wonders and shared history of this unique country.
Indian Influence on Indonesian Culture:
- What could be more Indian than a country that has ‘India’ in its very name. Indonesia comes from the Latin words ‘Indo’ meaning India, and ‘Nesus’ meaning ‘Islands’.
- If it weren’t for the beautiful island feel of the country, you could easily mistake Indonesia for India; what with the statues of Indian deities at every corner and intersection, ‘Namaste’ used for greeting people, heartfelt performances of the Ramayana, shops and shanties sprouting at little nooks, everything screams ‘Little piece of India’.
Indonesia borrowed aspects of Indian culture from the Indian sea traders who arrived from the 1st century onwards at Bali rom Paradeep in Orissa. Even today the journey is known as ‘Bali Yatra’.
There are various historical evidences of the interaction between traders of the two countries. The earliest among them is in Ujung Kulon National Park, West Java, where an early Hindu archeological relic of a Ganesha statue from the 1st Century AD has been found on the summit of Mount Raksa in Panaitan Island.
The next historical record is in the area of Kutai on the Mahakam River in east Kalimantan. Three rough plinths dating from the beginning of the fourth century are recorded in the Pallavi script of India that read “A gift to the Brahmin priests”.
Sanskrit loanwords seem to be the most integral aspects of the intercultural exchange of ancient times in these two countries. During the 8th and 9th century, the world’s largest Buddhist complex Borobudur and Prambanan, the largest Hindu temple complex in Indonesia were built near Yogyakarta in Central Java.In the 10th Century, students were sent to Nalanda Buddhist University in India.
The friendship and cordiality between India and Indonesia have continued until the present era. This friendship was especially strengthened when the first Asian African conference was held in Bandung in 1955.
Does this move you to visit your cultural doppelganger? Everything about Indonesia is fresh, unique and mesmerizing, and yet you will feel right at home.
So, make your next plans for Indonesia and get ready for the pleasant surprise?