8 Unique Cultures in Indonesia

8 Unique Cultures in Indonesia

Indonesia is a beautiful country, fertile, also has a variety of tribes and languages. At least there are more than 1300 ethnicities and 740 regional languages recorded in 34 provinces. This diversity of course also produces many cultures, some of which are not even found elsewhere. There are several unique cultures in Indonesia which Greatnesia has summarized in 8 unique cultures in Indonesia, namely:

Kebo Keboan Ceremony

8 Unique Cultures in Indonesia

We can find this unique culture in Indonesia in the Banyuwangi area, especially in Aliyan and Alasmalang villages. Kebo – keboan is a traditional ceremony that is being a kebo / buffalo. However, the buffalo used is not a real buffalo but a human who is made up to look like a buffalo.

This ceremony is thought to have existed since the 18th century and is always held at the beginning of the suro month in the Javanese calendar. In preparation, some men make up to look like buffalo and women usually prepare food and various equipment such as offerings and so on.

In its implementation accompanied by traditional music, kebo – keboan began to plow the fields acting like a real buffalo, not infrequently even kebo – keboan possessed and went wild to overwhelm the audience.

The purpose of this traditional ceremony is as a form of gratitude for the abundant harvest and also as a form of prayer in the hope that the following year can produce an abundant harvest.

Buffalo is a symbol of the main energy of the farmers, who are closely related to the agrarian culture in ancient times. In managing rice fields, for example, the use of buffalo is very helpful for farmers in plowing fields, fields and various other benefits.

Tiwah Ritual

This unique tradition is called Tiwah, which is a death ceremony held by the Ngaju Dayak tribe in Kalimantan. This ceremony aims to deliver the spirits of humans who have died to their final resting place, with the hope that the person who has been inspired will enter heaven.

In the Ngaju Dayak community, the Tiwah ceremony is the largest sacred ceremony and takes a long time. In its implementation, the Tiwah ceremony usually takes 7 to 40 days. And generally carried out when the rice harvest season is over. This is intended so that people have sufficient stock of food reserves, especially for families who want to carry out the ceremony.

However, as time goes by and the changing times, the tiwah ritual is very rarely carried out, this is because the victim’s family is unable to carry out the ritual, and plus various other factors which are estimated to have been that most of the Ngaju Dayak people have changed religion.

Mapasilaga Tedong

Mapasilaga tedong or Tedong Silaga is a buffalo fighting tradition. This unique tradition is located in the Toraja area, South Sulawesi. This tradition has been passed down from generation to generation in Toraja. This tradition is often carried out before the rambu solo ceremony (the funeral of a person who died several years ago) begins.

The tradition of Mapasilaga tedong (buffalo fighting) is carried out before the traditional ceremony begins. The type of buffalo being pitted is not an ordinary type of buffalo, but is chosen from the Tedong Pudu type where the skin and body are completely black.

When a buffalo fight is in progress, the rule is that a buffalo that often falls or runs away from the field will be declared defeated. After the game is over, the buffalo that have been pitted will be slaughtered in one slash. The buffalo meat will be distributed to people who have participated in the rambu solo ceremony.


The word Pasola comes from the word “Sola” which is a wooden spear used to throw opponents on a driven horse. In the basic word sola, “pa” (pasola) is added to mean the game. So the definition of pasola is a game carried out by two opposing groups by throwing wooden spears at each other which is done while riding a fast paced.

Pasola is a traditional ceremony for the people of Sumba who still adhere to the Marapu religion. Marapu religion is the ancestral religion of the Sumba people. Pasola tradition begins with the implementation of the Nyale custom. The Nyale custom is a ceremony as a form of gratitude for the gift obtained, marked by the arrival of the harvest season and sea worms (by locals called nyale) in abundance on the beach.

In the process, tribal leaders will take nyale. If the first nyale gets fat, colorful and healthy, it means a sign that the year will get good. Vice versa. After that, the Pasola game can be played.

In the Pasola game, it is carried out by two groups. each group consisted of more than 100 youths like knights on horses and armed with blunt-tipped wooden spears. Although the spearhead is blunt, this game often takes lives. However, the victim’s blood that flows during the pasola process is considered efficacious for soil fertility and future harvest success.


This unique culture in Indonesia is carried out by the Minangkabau community. The purpose of its implementation is to commemorate Ashura, namely the death of Imam Husayn, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. The use of the word Tabuik is taken from the Arabic “ark”, meaning a wooden crate.

According to legend, there has been the appearance of a creature in the form of a horse like Vegasus but with a human head. This tradition has existed since 1826 – 1828 which at that time had the nuances of Indian customs. Then in 1910 there was an agreement to integrate the tabuik custom with Minangkabau customs and is valid until now.

The holding of this tradition is considered to bring blessings, by making a giant tabuik in which parts of the statue have their own meaning. The drum was also symbolized as a form to commemorate the events that resulted in the killing of Husayn bin Ali


The dugderan tradition is a typical Semarang culture that has been carried out since 1881 AD. This activity is carried out as a form of expressing their longing for the month of Ramadan which is generally carried out 2 weeks before the month of Ramadan.

In its implementation, it often begins with a people’s market, and is followed by a dugderan or festival which is enlivened by a number of fireworks, and various events such as various ornamental cars, cavalry, red and white troops, student ranks, golden carriages, drum bands.


Debus is a martial art designation originating from the Banten area which has existed since the 16th century and developed in the 18th century. The games are very diverse, ranging from piercing the stomach with sharp objects, piercing the tongue, slicing the body with a knife, burning oneself with fire and so on.


Makepung is held by Balinese people only as entertainment. The Makepung or Buffalo Race was originally done only to plow the fields. But because it is in great demand and even attractive in the eyes of foreign tourists, it is an annual tradition of the people in Bali.

The Makepung tradition began in 1970. And has also undergone changes to the rules of the game and its completeness. For example, in the past there was only one buffalo but now you can use 3 buffalo.

As for the rules of the race, the finish distance is 1 or 2 km, but the winner is not based on who is the first to reach the finish line, but focuses on the buffalo who walk straight and do not stagger. And if there are 2 people reach the finish line, then the second one is called the winner.


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