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 Dirgahayu Indonesiaku: A Little Bit of History and More, Shared in the Spirit of Independence Day!

Dirgahayu Indonesiaku: A Little Bit of History and More, Shared in the Spirit of Independence Day!

If you happen to be on the island or in any part of Indonesia at the moment, chances are that you must have noticed the red and white proudly displayed literally all around you! Flags and ribbons are festively decorating buildings and streets, especially on the main roads. A lot of people even have flags attached to their scooter mirrors and car radio antennas, and in some cities approaching to the D-day, you can experience community celebrations through the fun competitions held in each neighborhood. Yes, it is celebration of 17th of August, Indonesia's Independence Day!

17th of August 1945 is the day that marked the end of all colonization and occupation on the land of modern day Indonesia which covers the entire archipelago stretched from Sabang to Merauke. It was the day the Indonesian indigenous people could finally call the land of their ancestors as their very own country.

The Independence of Indonesia, the archipelago often referred to with the contemporary term ‘Nusantara', was officially gained marked by the proclamation by the nation's founding father, Ir. Soekarno who was also the first president of the Republic of Indonesia (in office 1945 - 1967). The proclamation of independence effectively ended the occupation by the Japanese which took place from 1942 after World War II which was preceded by centuries of Dutch colonization over most regions of the archipelago, consisting of numerous kingdoms, which back then was known as the East Indies.

Through that extremely long period of time, undoubtedly huge battles took place and as any other recorded history of wars between indigenous people fighting colonialism, the amount of blood spilled and lives sacrificed is enormous and countless. It was catastrophic. This independence celebrated nowadays can't be taken for granted.

Seventy-one years later, and the Indonesian elders still share their experience and wisdom about how the blessed generations below them should be grateful, live consciously, and fill this freedom and independence with greatness, just like our forefathers fought and died for. It only makes sense for them to passionately carry on the essence and pass on the message, considering that they were the ones who still remember how it feels like to gather around the radio and listen to the president's powerful speeches to keep the spirit alive!

The first few years after Indonesia declared its independence, the country was not politically stable yet. Even though the country had declared its existence both de facto and de jure, and had gained the world's recognition for it, the struggle did not stop there as there were continuous efforts to regain "East Indies" as part of the Dutch colony, and this time there were allies involved.

A series of battles, conventions, international agreements, political change in terms of the nation's form and territory proceeded until a few years after the nation's birth, and finally, a few history book chapters later, Indonesia was no longer fighting against any shape or form of colonization. Indonesia became a baby country busy taking care of its internal issue; building and developing, maintaining and adjusting, working things out, celebrating the freedom of the new national household.

Seventy-one years has gone by since the birth of the Republic of Indonesia and here we are. Sure, Indonesia is not at all perfect, but it's pretty damn awesome in so many different ways! So yes, let's celebrate our independence and all it stands for, all it represents! But in the mean time, in the spirit of being grateful for what we have today, let's not forget the struggles our people went through throughout history!

Now, if you are interested to know more about the Indonesian national history, which includes Bali circa pre-independence of Indonesia and Bali circa colonial era, there are a number of museums which somehow haven't been too popular among international tourists or expatriates, or surprisingly even locals!

The exhibits of these museums focus on the parts of history which happened on the island. It tells about the Balinese kingdom during the colonial era, the struggles of the people, the Margarana battle and much more.

For example, did you know that the famous name of Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport and bypass is named after the island's most influential hero who fought for Bali as part as Indonesia? Well, he is definitely recognized as both a hero of Bali as well as a national independence hero! You didn't know that? It's alright, of course it is! However, going to the museum can really be the kind of day out you might enjoy and benefit from, in celebrating the spirit of Indonesia's Independence Day!

The Museums of which the exhibits fall under the category of struggles of the people throughout history, including the colonial era and leading up to the independence are Bajra Sandhi Monument (Renon, Denpasar), Kertha Gosa Museum (Semarapura, Klungkung Regency), and Taman Puja Bangsa Margarana (Marga, Tabanan).

If you happen to be on the southern part of the island, the perfect museum for you to check out will be the iconic Bajra Sandhi Monument, located in the center of the green delightful Niti Mandala Park located in Renon, often simply referred to as Renon Park.

Bajra Sandhi Monument is a beautiful rectangular building that follows the Balinese Hindu architectural principles of the "Tri Mandala", whereas the building is mainly divided in three parts, each with their own assigned function. The first floor of the main building, Madyaning Utama Mandala, houses 33 dioramas, which are pretty similar to those exhibited at the National Monument in Jakarta. However, these dioramas focus on the struggles of the Balinese people. They tell the stories of various defining moments in the Balinese history, covering the Balinese kingdom era, the introduction of Hinduism, the Majapahit era, followed by the Dutch colonialism, and the struggle for independence.

And that was our version of a short Introduction of National History of Indonesia, lecture number one! But seriously though, honoring the national heroes and ancestors, we invite everyone to take a short moment and simply imagine if they weren't such brave unstoppable warriors. Things must have gone very differently, especially for the Indonesian people, from all tribes and ethnic groups spread over the 18,307 island stretched across the majestic Nusantara. So, yes, let's go to the national museums, get immersed in the meaning of Independence Day! Dirgahayu, Indonesiaku! Dirgahayu! Merdeka!!!


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January, 2018
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