Religious Tolerance from Baliem Valley of Papua – The Baliem Valley, Papua comprises heterogeneous society in adhering to religions. Even so, they live in harmony and remain to preserve their ancestral heritage.

In the history, before Islam entered, the Baliem Valley comprised Christian Protestants and Catholics.

Islam began to develop in the Baliem Valley, starting with President Soekarno’s program that sent West Irian Development Pioneer (PPIB) volunteers to all corners of Papua for prepareing of the implementation of the People’s Opinion Determination (Pepera). All of these volunteers are Muslim, they came from Central Java and Yogyakarta.

By means of an intensive interaction and preaching from these volunteers, some of the Dani Tribe in the Baliem Valley later adhered to Islam.

At first Islam developed in Kampung Megapura, then developed in Kampung Hitigima, Welesi, Okilikik, Araboda, Salt Water, Kurima, Tulima, Apenas and Jagara. What is unique is that the Dani tribe, who is Muslim, remains to maintain the distinctive tradition of the Baliem Valley, namely burning the stones.

The tradition of burning the stones is carried out in welcoming Ramadan and other Islamic holidays. So far, in the tradition of burning the stones in the Baliem Valley, the food that is cooked is pork. The Dani Muslim community has replaced it with free-range chicken or broiler chickens Papuan people called ice chickens.

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When doing rock-burning, several men stack stones on top of dry wood construction which are then covered with leaves and dry grass to be burned. Not far from the location in which the stone was burned, a puddle on the ground had previously been made.

The hot stone from the combustion is then made up evenly in the hole, then on top of the hot stone surface, various types of food ingredients are arranged such as vegetables, taro, sweet potato, cassava, banana and chicken. This food ingredients is then covered with sweet potato leaves or other vegetables. 

These foods tol be cooked from the heat originating from the stone. After all the food ingredients are composed, the pile of those foods is then closed tightly and then put on the hot stone again. After three hours, it is opened and all the ingredients are cooked and ready to eat.

In the tradition of burning the stones to welcome Ramadan, this is usually done in the courtyard of the mosque or mosque. In its implementation, it is carried out in mutual cooperation, involving the Christian Dani Tribe.

A valuable tuition that can be taken from religious life in the Baliem Valley is a high sense of religious tolerance. Apart from that, the tradition of ancestral legacy is still being maintained.

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Author: Hari Suroto (A Papuan Archeology Center)

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