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Not 'godless': Indonesian native faith followers fight for recognition

As 81-year-old Subrata listened to a gong echo during a celebration of his ancient Indonesian Indigenous faith, bokep populer he betrayed little of the trauma of a lifetime of discrimination deriding him as “godless”.

The move created several bureaucratic roadblocks for believers, including renewing driving licences, applying for certain jobs or undertaking other official administrative tasks.

“We are still fighting because there are still articles… that are discriminatory,” Ira Indrawardana, an anthropologist at Padjadjaran University who practices Sunda Wiwitan, told AFP.

He was enjoying a cleansing ritual for younger followers of the Sunda Wiwitan religion in Muslim-majority Indonesia’s most-populous province West Java, where they are often derided as infidels, primitive or faithless idolaters.

“The ministry can’t provide such service for that many religions so we decided on a universal term,” said Sjamsul Hadi, senior official at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology.

Before a ritual known as “Pesta Dadung” to protect crops from ruinous pests, men dressed in black solemnly chanted prayers while lighting a fire, as women in white kebaya sang in a traditional Sundanese language.

“I hope people will no longer treat God’s creatures differently,” Subrata, who like many Indonesians has one name, told AFP between rituals in Cigugur village, around 200 kilometres (124 miles) east of Jakarta.

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