The Religion in West Papua Then and Now

The Religion in West Papua Then and Now

The concept of divinity in West Papua exists not only in the present but also in the past. This is why comparing the religion in West Papua in the past and present will be interesting. Because, even though they both believe in God, the implementation of their faith is different.

The boundaries began to appear in the 14th century when Islam entered the land of West Papua. However, an enormous impact happened in the 19th century, when Christianity came in. So, here are the West Papuan religions in the past and in the present that you need to know!

West Papuan Religion in The Past

West Papuan religions

Like any other region in Nusantara, every native tribe of West Papua has its own beliefs regarding God. For example, the Biak Numfor Tribe call their God Manseren Naggi. Meanwhile, if you ask the Moi Tribe, they will call their God Fun Nah.

Besides the different names of God, all the tribes in West Papua also have other religious traditions. But, in general, their goals are the same. They hope to God that their harvest and fish catch will be abundant. Usually, this is done by giving certain offerings or ceremonies to God.

Many tribes widely believe in two beliefs in West Papua. That is animism and dynamism. Animists believe in ancestral spirits. Meanwhile, dynamists believe in the power of sacred objects, such as trees, caves, and so on.

For example, a tribe in West Papua that adheres to animistic beliefs is the Asmat Tribe. The background is the legend of Fumeripits, the ancestor of the Asmat people who is good at sculpting and carving.

Therefore, sculpting and carving became very important for them as a form of belief in their ancestral spirits. Apart from art, this tradition also has a deep spiritual meaning.

West Papuan Religion in The Present

When it comes to contemporary beliefs, animism and dynamism have been abandoned by many West Papuans. Of course, there are still some people who adhere to this belief. However, the numbers were very few after the three Abrahamic religions entered the land of Papua.

These three beliefs are Protestant, Islam, and Catholic. Aside from that, several West Papuans embrace Hinduism and Buddhism.

1. Protestant

Protestant in west papua

Basically, Protestantism is the majority religion in West Papua. According to the Department of Population and Civil Registration, around 53,88% are Protestant in West Papua. The presence of Protestantism in West Papua cannot be separated from the role of evangelists in the 19th century.

2. Islam

Muslims in West Papua

Right after Protestantism, Islam is the second biggest religion on the western side of Papua. There are around 38,15% Muslims in West Papua. Most of them live in Fakfak and Sorong. In those two regions, Islam has become the majority religion. There are more than half of Fakfak dan Sorong citizens embrace Islam.

Approximately Islam entered the land of West Papua in the 14th century. That means Islam was the first Abrahamic religion to enter this place.

3. Catholic

Catholic - Religion in West Papua

Then, there are around 7,78% of West Papuans that embrace Catholicism. Just like Protestants, Catholics also entered Papua in the 19th century. The first gateway for Catholics to enter Papua is Fakfak. Therefore, you can see a lot of Catholics in Fakfak, especially in mountainous areas.

4. Hinduism and Buddhism

Hinduism and Buddhism

Aside from the Abrahamic religions, there is also a minority religion in West Papua that you need to know. It is Hinduism and Buddhism. The Department of Population and Civil Registration states that there are 895 Hindu in West Papua. And, there are also 54 Buddist that live there.

So, those are the comparisons between the religion in West Papua then and now that you need to know.