Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Their land defiled, forest people swap flower worship for Quran and concrete

By Hannah Beech
Since leaving the forest eight years ago, Mr. Tarip, left, has converted to Islam, the dominant religion of Indonesia. Credit: Kemal Jufri for The New York Times
JAMBI, Indonesia — When the flowers could no longer summon the gods, the healer knew it was time to leave the forest. As a traditional healer of the Orang Rimba, or forest people, here on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Temenggung Tarip had long depended on jungle blooms to conjure the divine for his seminomadic indigenous community. Mr. Tarip said. Mr. Tarip’s conversion was facilitated by his son-in-law, Rahmat, who is from the outside. The child of a family of transmigrasi — settlers from crowded parts of Indonesia who were given government incentives to work the land in remote places like Sarolangun — Mr. Rahmat said he grew up not certain whether the Orang Rimba were human or not. “They stole fruit from us,” he said. “So we taught them the Quran and they learned how to be better.”[More]
Temenggung Tarip with his wife, Putri Tija Sanggul, with their grandchildren, outside their concrete house in Jambi Province, Indonesia. Credit: Kemal Jufri for The New York Times