13 Cultural Practices in Indonesia

A cultural practice is life habit that highly sticks to every aspect of a person’s life. It may affect how a person behaves privately or within a public space. Indonesia has many cultural practices. These practices are passed down from one generation to the next because they are already a part of the culture in Indonesia. Moreover, they are also seen as the things that make Indonesia different than other countries. Below are 13 Cultural Practices in Indonesia. Continue reading to find out what these cultural practices are and increase your knowledge about Indonesia.

1. Eating with Bare Hands

Eating with bare hands is a very common cultural practice in Indonesia. In fact, it is one of the eating habits in Indonesia. You can observe that both the young and the old find it comfortable eating with their hands. They do not necessarily need eating utensils unless the food contains liquid.

2. Not Wearing Footwear Inside Home

When you enter a building in Indonesia, you have to take off your footwear. The footwear belongs outside the building. This cultural practice applies mostly in homes. The home is a clean place and footwear may carry dirt with them. Taking off your shoes or sandals will help keep the place clean. This cultural practice is also a cultural norms in Bali as well.

3. Visiting Family Members During Holiday

Family means a lot to Indonesians. People always try to keep the bond between family members strong. Visiting family members during the most popular holiday in Indonesia is a practice that people are happy to do. They try to find the right time to gather with the family. Moreover, they do not mind traveling for hours just to meet their family again.

4. Greeting by Shaking Hands

When you meet someone in Indonesia, the cultural practice would be to shake hands. Whether you know the person or not, shaking hands is a polite thing to do. Indonesians don’t firmly shake hands. The hand shaking process is very gentle. Also, it is usually accompanied with a smile.

5. Listening to the Elderly

The elderly are highly respected people in Indonesia. When they start to talk, the younger ones are expected to listen. It is a cultural practice in showing respect. Sometimes they would tell you their life experiences. Other times, they would share their wisdom. Those who are listening must stay quiet and respond appropriately.

6. Drinking Jamu

Jamu is a herbal drink that is authentic to Indonesia. It has a cultural value in the country because it has been around for many years. Drinking Jamu is also a part of healthy lifestyle in Indonesia. Traditionally Jamu is made using natural ingredients. Now they come in powder forms. People still like to carry on with the practice in drinking this.

7. Using Herbal Medicine

Nature is something that is very valuable in Indonesia. In fact, it has become an inspiration for fabric like Batik and Indonesian Ikat Fabric. However, Indonesians like to use nature as  Indonesian herbal medicine too. Some Indonesians still use herbal medicine to cure illnesses. It is a cultural practice that is close to Indonesians.

8. Using Titles to Call People

This next cultural practice is using titles to call someone. You can call someone by their first name in Indonesia. But it is culturally appropriate to use certain titles. For older men, Indonesians use Bapak while Mas for younger males. On the other hand, older women are called Ibu and Mbak for younger ones. You must also use the word Kakak to call someone who is older than you and Adik for those younger than you.

9. Slightly Bowing to Show Respect

Another cultural practice in Indonesia is slightly bowing your head when you meet someone. This practice often happens when you see someone older than you or have a higher status in society. Bowing your head means you are acknowledging the presence of the person. When you bow your head you may continue with your activity or approach the person to shake hands.

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10. Offering Food and Drinks to Guests

Offering food and drinks to guests is a common practice in Indonesia. This happens most often when you visit someone’s home. The person who owns the house will give you something to drink or to snack while you are visiting them. They may even take the effort to make you a cup of tea or coffee.

11. Obeying the Older Ones

In Indonesia, obeying the older ones is a must. It is already rooted in each of Indonesian’s lifestyle ever since they were kids. It is one of the highly respected Indonesian family values. One must always listen and obey whatever the old ones tell them to do. That is because in Indonesia, the older ones are always respected. People assume that the older ones are always more wise.

12. Speaking Politely

The next cultural practice is speaking politely. Indonesians prefer it when people talk with appropriate manners. One must pay a lot of attention to their tone of voice and vocabularies when talking to someone who is older. This shows that you have a good behaviour towards the person you are talking to. You can find out more about characteristics of Indonesian language to find out how the language is used in the country.

13. Dressing Modestly

This last cultural practice is dressing modestly. Many Indonesians are still conservative and they prefer people to wear modestly. Wearing clothes that are too revealing is not acceptable in some regions in Indonesia. Even Bali has rules on how people should dress when they want to enter the temples there.

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When you are in Indonesia, make sure to observe the people and the environments around you. Take a closer look in how they behave, dress or speak. One of these cultural practices are bound to appear. You will start to realise that Indonesians are conscious of these cultural practices. They know that what they do is what makes them truly Indonesians.