Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Bunaqese Philosophy

The Bunaqese is one of the tribes in Timor island, East of Indonesia. Like other tribes in Timor, the Bunaqese maintain a philosophy of life. This philosophy is based upon two inseparable notions, namely, the understanding of the Highest Holy and the cultural-religious rites. For the Bunaqese, the Highest Holy is called “Hot Essen”. The name of “Hot Essen” is believed as the source of the good things, truth and beauty. In the Bunaqese way of thinking, the goodness, truth and beauty of “Hot Essen” are revealed to human beings particularly to the tribal leaders called “Lal Gomo”. “Lal Gomo” have a special responsibility. They are responsible to translate the goodness, truth and beauty of “Hot Essen” into tribal religious rites. Members of the tribe are obliged to follow these rites for their living benefits. Only by following these rites, members of the tribe would find ways of receiving the blessings of the Eternal Source, that is, “Hot Essen”.
How are the religious rites conducted? Cultural rites of the Bunaqese can only be performed by the tribal leaders in a community since these rites are basically communal rites. Therefore there is no personal ritual performance. The communal performance of the Bunaqese rites symbolises the social relationship between members of the tribe and “Hot Essen” and within the tribal community itself. In fact this social relationship with “Hot Essen” and among members of the community is the foundation of the Bunaqese life.
For a more exploration of the Bunaqese philosophy, please visit my blog: I wish to open a more space for dialogue on the Bunaqese philosophy, tradition and identity-building through this blogspot. Comments and suggestions are certainly welcomed. (Contributed by Rev. Beny Mali SVD).****

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