The Dynamics of Local Religion in Indonesia’s Multireligious Community

World religions paradigm state regulation multireligious society local religion Sunda Wiwitan


May 22, 2023


This paper examines the dynamics of local religions in the multi-religious society of Indonesia from the perspective of religious and cultural anthropology. The focus of the study is on the local religion of Sunda Wiwitan in Cigugur, Kuningan, West Java, Indonesia, which has managed to exist despite never being recognised as a religion. We collected data using qualitative research strategies through in-depth interviews, participant observation, and a literature review. The data was analysed based on the perspective of religious and cultural anthropology developed by Emilè Durkheim, Clifford Geertz, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, and Hans Küng. Local religions in Indonesia have never been officially recognized as religions. The disappearance of a large number of local religions is an inevitable fact. The followers of local religions that still exist experience discrimination in various dimensions of life. Categorizing religions as right-wrong, correct-incorrect, or legal-illegal will only absolutize one and exclude the others. The local knowledge of the Sunda ethnic community known as Sineger Tengah could be an alternative solution. Sineger Tengah is a cultural way of thinking, a collective awareness of the community to place all differences or even conflicts as complementary, coexisting, and completing pairs of existence.