By Indranil Halder
Tushar Pal came to Indonesia on 2010. He was recruited by one of the Indonesian coal mining company. Today, he lives in Indonesian and explores the strong India and Indonesian connections.
Who is Tushar ?
Employed with Singapore based company but assigned at his work site in Samarinda in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. He has a degree in B.Tech in Mining Engineering from Odisha School of Mining Engineering, Biju Pattnaik University of Technology. He has also travelled to Australia, China, Srilanka,Thailand, Malaysia and UAE (Dubai).
Being from Odisha, Tushar truly feels a deeper connection with Indonesia. This connection goes back to many thousands of years. Indian merchants were trading handlooms with Indonesian islands of Bali, Java and Sumatra. During Tushar’s school days, he read about stories of thousand year old stronger relationship between India and Indonesia.
Even today, in Odisha, there is an annual festival dedicated to Indonesia where people make boats from the layers of banana tree trunk with little human idols as crews to float on river or ponds. Popular Odisha Kalijai Temple (abode of the Goddess Kalijai) located on an island in Chilika Lake also connect Odisha & Indonesia with stories of trades.
This strong connection to Indonesia is a reason for Tushar to always dreamt to experience Indonesia by himself.
Finally, after landing in Jakarta,Tushar noticed Indonesian National airlines is named after Garuda (Hindu mythology bird). He was truly mesmerised by the modern architecture of the city. The city served him, his favourite Indonesian dishes Cap cai ( popular Chinese-Indonesian vegetable dish served). It is so popular that he could have Cap cai anywhere in Jakarta. He was amazed to experience no honking like in the streets of India. His other great surprise was the popularity of Bollywood. It is a very big part of Indonesian culture.. Bollywood blockbuster such as Kuchh Kuchh Hota Hai is still very very popular with Indonesians. Recently, the movie Mahabharat became huge success in Indonesia. Tushar is certain that almost all Indonesian people know names of Bollywood actors. Bharat Ratna awardee Indian singer Late Latamangeskar is very popular in Indonesia too. She had also sung many local “Dangdut” (is a part of everyday life in Indonesia) songs.
Unfortunately, Tushar doesn’t have any Bengali friend in Indonesia. He enjoys his Soto Betawi (prepared with meat, which is boiled with aromatic herbs like lemongrass and Indonesian bay leaves)and best of Indonesian culture influenced by Hindusim. He is astonished to find the similarities between Indonesia national language “Bahasa “ and Sanskrit. Author Anita Bose in her book titled Ramayana, Footprints in South Asian Culture and Heritage talks about Ramayana practices in south east Asian countries such as Indonesia where it is known as Kakawin. In the backdrop of the massive Prambanan Temple, It is performed by Muslim dancers And highlighting the similarities.
He believes the similarities are due to Indonesia, being an entirely Hindu nation many decades ago and their love for Hinduism. Recently, Ex-Indonesian President’s Daughter Sukmawati Sukarnoputri and Princess Hayu (daughter of Sultan Hamengkubuwono X of Yogyakarta) from Java in 2017 converted to Hinduism. He said, “Indonesian words are absolutely same like ‘Swarna’ which is gold in Indian and ‘nark’ or Hell in Indian , is also called Naraka in Indonesia.”Even though Indonesia today is one the largest Islam country by population but still remain attached to its Hindu culture roots.
Like India , Indonesia has huge cultural ethnic groups & all have different rituals and traditions such as Dayak culture, Sunda culture to name a few. The most significant is the Balinese culture of Hindutva. Balinese make exquisite wooden handcrafted idols of lord Vishnu , Shiva and Ganesh. Tushar went with his friends to Bali and embarrassed the Balinese tradition of dance performed with grace, beauty and Hindu mythology.
Tushar from his school days knew Indonesia also has a very strong relationship with his residing Indian state, Odhisa. The relationship is so strong that Odisha’s late Chief Minister Mr Biju Pattnaik Ji had rescued Mr Soekanrno ( former president) during trouble times. When Mr Biju Pattnaik died , entire Indonesia had declared national mourning & the biggest civil award of Indonesia“Bumi Putra” was bestowed on him.
In Indonesia, no one spoke Odia or Bengali or English, but the locals conquered his heart. They are incredibly lovely and kind. He likes the humbleness & patience people show towards each other. He also loves Nasi padang( Minangkabau steamed rice served with various choices of pre-cooked dishes. Originated from West Sumatra, Indonesia.Named after Padang, capital of West Sumatra province). It reminds him of Odia Thali back home with white rice and assorted pre-cooked dishes. Today, all he wants to do is to enjoy Indonesia and its cultural similarities to India. His next plan is to explore the world’s largest Buddhist temple complex Borobudur, Java, Indonesia and we cannot wait to hear from him again.