The Sasak people of Lombok are unique. They have a rich culture and take pride in their customs. New visitors often remark on their kindness and generosity, despite having very little. They are also very curious and love engaging with new comers, offering coffee, practising their English, or sharing a meal.
We will explore more of their local practises in later blogs, but for now, here are a few ways in which you can show your respect to them and their island.
You won’t get far if you start getting argumentative with locals. Bear in mind the language and cultural differences can often mean crossed wires. If you are trying to explain something, do so calmly and with patience. A smile goes a long way when haggling also, it prevents the situation from getting too tense and negative.
- Dress up for a wedding
You may be lucky enough to be invited to a Sasak wedding. These celebrations often go on for days, culminating in ’Nyongkolan’, where the wedding party takes to the streets with music. Both men and women dress in local sarongs and head pieces, and it is a stunning display of local culture. Don’t miss out if you get an invite!
- Cover up when not at the beach
Lombok is a primarily Muslim island. Although fairly liberal in their views, it would be wise to keep the bikinis and the trunks to the beach, and cover up when walking on the street. When visiting a local village, or going further out of the main tourist spots, take a sarong so you can cover shoulders or knees as a sign of respect.
- Greet or eat with your left hand
Toilet paper is uncommon amongst locals. A bucket and a hand will do. Therefore extending your left hand for a handshake will probably be received with an odd look. Similarly, many locals eat with their hands, but their right only.
- Walk over/through a seated group
Many families and friends sit on the floor for meals and social occasions. It is frowned upon to stand up and walk through the middle of the group or in front of someone. If you must pass, try and walk around the backs of people, or failing that, bow down with your right arm extended down as you pass, as a sign of respect.
- Eat or Drink in Public during Ramadan
Many of the local population will be fasting during daylight hours for the whole month of Ramadan. A very difficult feat, especially considering the tropical climate! Many local warungs will close during the day but there will still be some tourist restaurants serving, usually with closed blinds. As a sign of respect, try and eat and drink indoors or out of plain sight.
Taking these tips into consideration will show the local people that you respect them, and they will return that respect tenfold! It will open doors into Lombok life and give you the opportunity to truly experience their culture.