It’s kind of an awkward thing to have your child take a required religion class, when religion is not really practiced at home. I know this topic is a bit taboo to talk about, especially in the United States, but I feel a little more at ease discussing it now that I’ve been in Indonesia for six months.
Religion is very out in the open here, and a very common question to ask when getting to know someone new. It’s used as support to help explain why someone does something, or where their family is from. Oh you’re Sasak? You must be Muslim and from Lombok. You’re from Aceh? Good luck riding sidesaddle on a motorcycle if you’re female, in accordance to the new Islamic law proposed recently. Religion is less personal and private and more communal, even fashionable here, in my opinion. Hijabs are frequently seen across Indonesia, as a religious symbol, but also as an accessory to appear sophisticated or trendy. Now, I hardly notice them.
There are four recognized religions at my school: Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Eliana was placed in the Christian class the first semester. She did have a few questions about why we don’t go to church and once mentioned something about god giving out candy. We tried to get more details, but she seemed to not be very phased by it all. We on the other hand were feeling like it was time for a change. If Eliana has to take religion, then I would like her to learn about religions around the world or what religion is as a whole.
As a child I was given several opportunities to learn about other religions. I remember visiting churches, cathedrals, and temples throughout my childhood. I enjoyed comparing the traditions and rituals and I especially appreciated the right to choose what I agreed with and what I didn’t agree with. This is not common for most, and hopefully not offensive to anyone reading this post. However as a parent, it is something that I would like to provide to my own child: The right to choose.
And on that note, one common religious ritual Ellie has picked up on, and practices on occasion, is placing rice on her forehead, pulling her hands together and praying. Her teachers have also noticed this and commented about it. Apparently our frequent visits to Bali have made an impact! And now (or at least for this semester), Eliana will be a Hindu.
Sure, why not?