When travelling abroad (Well, maybe except Singapore and Malaysia), I always get rather excited when I discover small things related to my home country. Restaurant, shop name, ad, a product “made in Indonesia”, etc. The excitement heightens if I find them in a local museum. I once saw a gift from a former Indonesian Ambassador being displayed in one of the chambers at the Former Hokkaido Government Office in Sapporo.
So a visit to Israel and Palestine got even better when I found these bits of not only Indonesia as a whole but also the cultural diversity that defines the country.
The Church of the Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem is well-known for the numerous plaques of the Lord’s Prayer in around 100 languages of the world. The plaque for the Indonesian version of the prayer is surely one of them. But there are also those in our local languages. I found, among others, the Karo (North Sumatera), Palembang (South Sumatera), Sundanese (West Java), Javanese, and Biak (Papua). Interestingly, some of these regions are in fact predominantly Muslim.
Another spot with multilingual plaques is the Yardenit Baptismal Site on the Jordan River. The plaques contain a passage from Mark 1:9-11 that tells about the baptism of Jesus. There are plaques in the Betawi (the language of native Jakartans), Dayak Maanyan (a sub-group of the Dayaks in Kalimantan), and Tobelo (North Maluku) languages. I heard there was a Balinese version as well. But it was the plaque of “Kota Tomohon” (Tomohon City) that immediately caught my attention. Tomohon in North Sulawesi is where my maternal grandfather was from. If you’ve ever been to Manado, what’s written on the plaque isn’t the standard Manadonese you might have pick up while there, but the Tombulu language spoken in and around Tomohon. (Unfortunately, I’ve got zero proficiency of the language…)
But I must say that I was most impressed by what I discovered at the Basilica of Annunciation in Nazareth. The walls of the church’s courtyard and interior are filled with mosaics of Virgin Mary (sometimes with baby Jesus) in various cultural interpretations. Italy even has multiple mosaics, all in different visualisation of the annunciation. So how was Mary depicted in the Indonesian version? With a kebaya, of course!
This post’s Featured Image shows the signboard of a restaurant in Bethlehem. It may call itself a Chinese restaurant, but in addition to Arabic and Hebrew, it says “Welcome” in the Indonesian language! =) =)