Arat Sabulungan had long been a guide for the indigenous people of the Mentawai Islands, West Sumatra, Indonesia, to preserve the environment, said five UGM Philosophy students in their research.
Aza Khiatun Nisa said her exploration aimed at seeing whether the native belief could function as a model to be outlined in the country’s culture-based sustainable development strategy.
“In line with the findings, sustainable development with such a modern impression can collaborate with local wisdom,” said Aza on Tuesday (30/8).
Aza was joined by Nur Amalia Fitri, Muhammad Farid Wajdi, Kartika Situmorang, and Moch Zihad Islami. The team visited Madobag Village on Siberut Island and Tuapejat Village on Sipora Island on 17-25 June 2022 to gather data and met with Sikerei (Shaman) Aman Sasali.
The Shaman said the term Arat Sabulungan embraced many meanings, from religion, customs, and traditions, to parties.
“Arat means custom, and Sabulungan means ritual. The word Bulung means leaf. In short, Arat Sabulungan means custom that comes from nature,” said Aman.
To open a road, for instance, rituals to ancestral spirits performed by the community are a must, in addition to legal documents from the government. The environmental consequences will be carefully considered prior to the decision as it will affect their grandchildren.
“One example of environmental conservation is related to permits. The construction of roads, buildings, or others must also obtain permission from the Mentawai community through the Sikerei or their leaders,” said Aza.
The use of natural resources is also regulated and restricted in the community’s practices, for example, in kei-kei (taboos and prohibitions), tulou (fines), alak toga (dowry), panaki (ritual asking for permission), punen (party), and leleiyo or urai simatak (folk song).
Author: Gusti Grehenson