10 Examples of Taboos in Indonesia

Taboo is forbidden or deemed inappropriate to do. Some may have received it, but some may not be able to accept it yet. And there are also some people who do not know the taboo culture around it. Taboons are usually closely related to the norm of decency. A taboo culture, attitude, or action can vary. Not infrequently, some countries have extreme and odd taboo things. If you visit Indonesia, be sure to learn what is taboo in this country. Here’s the review.

  1. Tampon and other sanitary products

Tampon or sanitary napkins are considered taboo in Indonesia. That’s why women in Indonesia are asked to always be careful to keep it. When buying sanitary pads anywhere, be sure to ask for black plastic to avoid being seen. Sometimes the buyers would just give some code rather than directly mention this things.

This object is considered taboo because it is used to absorb menstrual blood where only women who experience it.  That is why the advertisement of this product is not clearly showed what product it is. You know that menstruation is also a taboo. Talking about it in front of men who have no family relationship is still considered taboo in Indonesia.

  1. Sex

Sex in Indonesia is still considered taboo. Many people who feel uncomfortable to discuss things about sex. Even some people also feel embarrassed when asked about their sex life. This happens in Indonesia because the norm of politeness is dominating in Indonesia.

In general, people are still embarrassed to buy books or view videos about sex education. Actually, early sex education is also needed for the health of the reproductive system, but the parents are still often reluctant to teach the proper sex behavior towards their children. Some other will assume that their children will know about sex by themselves when they are mature.

  1. Using Left hand

Eastern cultures always glorify the use of the right hand. So it is with Indonesia. This culture prioritizes the use of the right hand when giving or receiving. This is a form of norms of decency in Indonesia. For that, the use of the left hand when eating, giving, receiving, or even doing other things is considered taboo in Indonesia. Even if you are a left-handed person, tell the truth that you are left-handed. They will probably understand that left-handedness is not something to be debated about.

Read also:

  1. Calling elder people by their names

In Indonesia, taboo is often associated with things that are inappropriate or even not done. The norm of civility evolved into something taboo. One is to call the older person’s name directly without using Pak, Bu, Mas, or Mbak. It is considered impolite for Indonesians to call older people by name.

In general, Indonesians will attach other words as a form of greeting before mentioning the name itself, for example; Father, Mother, Mbak, Mas, Brother and many more. (Read also: How do Indonesian Greet Each Other)

  1. Public display affection

Indonesia adopts eastern rather than western culture. It automatically also affects the behavior of people in witnessing the appearance of affection in the public. Excessive physical contact between the opposite sexes (eg hugging, touching, kissing) in public is considered unacceptable for society.

Therefore, do not be offended if an elderly man or woman approached you unpleasantly when you committed this ‘criminal’ act.

Although you want to do this thing with someone you love (e.g. wife, husband, or crush), make sure not to display it in front of public.

  1. Touching other people’s head

It is very rude to do, though it would only be possible happens among family members. However, this is considered an unacceptable behavior, especially for older generations. In general, Indonesians have the conviction that the head is the most sacred part of the human body.

Touching or holding the head let alone deliberately considered an act of disrespect, lack of ethics, and brash. For that, do not try to do this in Indonesia, others may think you are being very bad.

  1. Saying harsh word

The rude things like cursing with inappropriate words in Indonesia are also taboo. This is again related to the norm of decency. Cursing with harsh words is considered irreverent in Indonesia. Especially if you use it to swear in front of someone and scold it. Often, even somebody will swear by the small things. When in Western countries cursing is a common thing, in Indonesia is not so.

Swearing can be interpreted as irreverence can even be included in the article of unpleasant deeds.

Read also:

  1. Put hands on hips

Putting your hands on the waist is a good position when you’re tired. But who knows that hands on your hip is also a taboo thing to do in Indonesia. Don’t do that even when you do it in front of the older and honorable person. It’s ascertained you will be labeled rude.

That is why as much as possible to avoid putting your hands on your hips. When talking, dealing with people, or talking make sure not to do this.

  1. Pointing with index finger

Pointing with the index finger is considered impolite. This is true as it relates to the norm of decency in Indonesia. Instead of pointing with the index finger, indicating something with the thumb is more polite. This can be seen in hotel services, restaurants, or airlines.

They will never show anything with his finger to the servants. Especially, if you pointing with the index finger in front of someone’s face. This can be considered too bold and not polite.

Read also:

  1. Farting in front of people

Like sex, there’s one more taboo to talk about in public places named farting. It also applies in Indonesia. In fact, fart is a human thing and often occurs in humans. However, farting will be a shame when you experience it in public.

That’s why for some people, doing something like this in front of a crowd is something taboo and should be avoided. Better if you want to fart, go away from the crowd to avoid the things that are not desirable.

Those are some examples of taboo in Indonesia. Once you get there, remember that learn the culture of Indonesia first to know what you should do and shouldn’t do there. Visiting a country means also learning the culture in that country.