Indonesian culture and traditions

Indonesia is an archipelago, a group of more than 17,000 islands, of which Sumatra, Kalimantan and Java are the best known, largest and most populous. This country is located in Southeast Asia and is a crossing point for commercial ships, due to which it has received a multitude of cultural influences, making it a multicultural place.


Being a crossing point for Asian merchants, although the majority of the population is of Malay origin, it has been under the influence of Holland, which became independent from the Netherlands in 1945 with Sukarno.


The Indonesian religion is very important as it has a great impact on its population. There are 5 official religions, Islam, Catholicism, Protestatism, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
Currently 80% of the Indonesian population is Islamist, although women are not forced to wear a headscarf, despite this most women wear it voluntarily. Men are allowed to have more than one woman, but always with the consent of the first woman.

The Portuguese were the ones who introduced Catholicism, but it has less and less influence on the population. In Bali the most practiced religions are Hinduism and Buddhism, especially the second is more practiced by the population of Chinese origin.

Some customs

In urban areas there is a lot of western influence, but in rural areas the most traditional culture is much preserved. In these more traditional places, the habits and rules of the community continue to be respected, with the family being the most important.

In temples it is mandatory to cover your shoulders, with a batik, a shawl or anything. We have to understand that for them the head is something sacred, so it cannot be touched. The right hand is used to eat and also to give or receive something, it is a way of showing respect. The left, on the other hand, is reserved for all impure acts such as cleaning. Another curious thing is that they always take off their shoes when entering a house.


Today there are already many people who dress in the western way, but as we said before, in more rural areas some more traditional clothing is still preserved.

Both men and women wear sarong, which is a rectangular-shaped cloth that is worn around the hip. They wear it in various colors and fabrics, as if it were some kind of belt.

Another garment called the Kebaya is also used, which is a typical blouse for Indonesian women. It is a long-sleeved and fitted blouse, it has no collar and it is fastened at the front.

Men can also wear the peci, which is a typical hat or a scarf tied around the head.


The gastronomy of Indonesia varies a lot according to the region, it has a mixture of Chinese, European, Eastern and Indian influences. In all of them rice is the main ingredient and they usually mix it with meat or vegetables. Coconut milk, chicken, and a wide variety of spices are also widely used.

Nasi Campur is a type of rice that is combined with chicken, vegetables, soy and omelette. Lumpia is a spring roll filled with meat, vegetables, noodles … Karu ayam is a kind of chicken stew with vegetables, curry sauce, coconut milk, rice …

Typical parties and celebrations

At parties and celebrations it is another place where you can see the great variety of Indonesian cultures. Between February and March, fighting drills are held in Sumba, it is a way to commemorate the wars of mutual annihilation. Between April and March, New Year’s Eve also takes place, it is usually typical to play drums that are said to drive away evil spirits. Another important festival is the Galungan where the gods come down to earth to unite with earthlings. On the Island of Larantuka there is a procession for Easter and in Ruteng for the duels of the whips.

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