Finally it’s this time of the year again, Christmas is here and the New Year is a week away. Time surely flies by so swiftly, as by this holiday season last year, I was still working in Bangkok and here I am now back to Indonesia to celebrate Christmas. Interestingly although Christianity is a minority in both countries, we can feel the Christmas atmosphere in the air. Almost all hotels, shopping malls, restaurants and stores are decorated with Christmas trees and other ornaments to celebrate this holiday. Most school children in Indonesia will also have holiday until the start of next year. How lucky! As mentioned earlier, the main religion in Thailand is Buddhism, with more than 90 percent of Thais practice this religion. I mean, those temples all over the kingdom should already clearly indicate that.
Meanwhile in Indonesia, the majority (more than 85 percent) of Indonesians are Moslems. In fact, Indonesia has the largest Islamic population in the world. Besides the several religions being practiced in Indonesia, the nation archipelago is also very diverse ethnically, with more than 300 native ethnic groups and 742 different languages and dialects. Although lately there has been rising concern against intolerance in the Indonesia, most Indonesians are known to be very tolerant. Even the nation’s motto which can be found in our coat of arms as stated in old Javanese: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which means Unity in Diversity.
Such idealism has been a foundation for this multicultural country and should always be in the heart and mind of all Indonesians in this testing times. I personally suspect that most intolerance incidents of late were more related to political undertaking, with various groups are wrestling for power in this environmentally rich country. But enough about politics, this is the season to be jolly, the time for family and celebration. I just hope the spirit of Christmas and the wish for better future in the new year will bring peace and prosperity to Indonesia and the whole world. Merry Christmas!