The Hill of Love (Multireligiosity for Pleasure)

Dr. Judith Schlehe, German Anthropologist who has also a specialization in South Asian Studies, was the speaker for the CRCS-ICRS Wednesday Forum on April 13th 2011. Dr. Judith Schlehe made her presentation on ‘Bukit Kasih, the Hill of Love: Multireligiosity for Pleasure’. It is the result of her field research on tourism site in North Sulawesi called Bukit Kasih (Hill of Love) which has a concept of inter-religious tourism marked by worship houses of different religions.


Bukit Kasih is located in the village of Kanonang, Kawangkoan District, Minahasa Regency, Governorate of North Sulawesi. From Manado, the capital of Governorate, it is fifty about kilometers far to the south. The location is a hilly area which considered as holy site according to the local ancestral belief. It was first opened as Bukit Doa (Hill of Prayer) in 1999, but later in 2004 the Indonesian State recognized the place as the religious place. They erected five religious houses and the place were name as Bukit Kasih.


The idea of establishing Bukit Kasih was to symbolized the religious harmony during the religious conflicts broke out in Indonesian. But for Schlehe, the place is more toward the tourism than inter-religious. People who visits the place do not maintain the goal of the symbol because they enter only to their respected religious worship houses and avoid other religious worship houses. For her, the idea of inter-religious dialogue has disappear and the local people has more focus on the site of business.


In this place, one can find the tomb of former governor of North Sulawesi, A. J. Sondakh. According to Schlehe, it shows the presence of politic and power relation behind the establishment of the site. But despite the failure of inter-religious representation, Schlehe came up with the notion on how religiosity can be reproduced in popular way. It denies the theory of secularization because the fact shows that religiosity can still be found in every scene and situation.


The presentation was followed by the session for questions and feedback. There was a discussion on the issue of anthropology and inter-religious dialogue. Schlehe explained that as an anthropologist, she only tried to throw suggestion to the sphere of inter-religious dialogue.


One of the participants commented that the failure of inter-religious practices in the place is due to the identification of power behind it. Schlehe did not deny the comment and she added that the place is more toward celebrating the diversity but not enough in promoting the dialogue. The place is well functioned as the object of pilgrimage for every single religion but not as the shared pilgrimage and even the pilgrimage are done only by the tourist as what Victor Turner and Edith Turner have said.


The discussion in the Forum considered the site to be predominant Christian symbolized. One assumed that it is not the symbol of inter-religiosity but merely a Christian dominant in the non-conflict multi-religious place. Schlehe has also questioned on the absence of Confucianism symbol in the place where after the Indonesia Government has already legalized since 2002. Schlehe final comment was, the place has still hope and capable to maintain toward working together for the inter-religious dialogue and harmony. [MoU]

This post is also available in: Indonesian


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