Definition of Customs According to Experts, Types to Examples

Understanding Customs –  Indonesia is one of the countries in the world that is richest in cultural diversity. Having thousands of islands and hundreds of tribes, Indonesia is also rich in customs that have a myriad of philosophies and meanings. These customs are certainly a legacy that must be studied and preserved so that they are not lost under the ravages of time.

But actually, what is the meaning of the custom itself? To understand more about customs, let’s look at the reviews below.

Definition of Customs

Indonesia has diverse customs because its population is heterogeneous. This heterogeneous society has different cultures, traditions and customs in each region. The norms, values ​​and traditions of Indonesian society are still valid today. Customs are part of the cultural wealth of a region or nation.

According to the Big Indonesian Dictionary (KBBI), customs are rules of behavior that are eternal and passed down from one generation to another as an inheritance, so that their integration is strong with people’s behavior patterns. Adat comes from the Persian language which means custom; method; use; ceremony; observation. Meanwhile, customs come from the Arabic isti’adah which means a request to return.

Customs are part of the cultural wealth of a region or nation. Norms are cultural forms that represent the customs, values, traditions, and customs of a group. Generally, customs are used to guide the attitudes and behavior of certain people.

In the customary anthropology dictionary, procedures are equated with tradition. Tradition means a form of action that has been done repeatedly using the same method. Tradition means something passed down from generation to generation.

Customary rules are often considered to be rules that live on the people (living law). Customary law has values ​​that are claimed to be sacred or sacred. Norms share forms, behaviors, human actions among the people, rules and regulations to maintain the customs ordinances that apply in their environment.

According to the Regional Regulation of Tojo Una-Una Regency on the Empowerment of Preservation of Customs and the Formation of Customary Institutions, customs are hereditary habits that are carried out repeatedly. This habit has become a tradition or characteristic of a region. Customs can be a set of values ​​or norms, norms, and social beliefs that grow and develop together with the growth and development of society.

These values ​​or norms are still internalized and maintained by the community. Customs are embodied in various patterns of behavior that are habits in the life of the local community.

Customs are cultural forms that represent the shared norms, values, traditions and customs of a group. Usually, customs are used to guide the attitudes and behavior of certain people. In Indonesia, there are various customs that still apply.

Customs can be said to be part of an identity that is inherent from generation to generation. Customs are a form of behavior passed down from generation to generation. Now, customs are traditions that are trying to be preserved so that later our children and grandchildren can still see the customs that exist today. Customs are activities, beliefs or ceremonies that are passed down from generation to generation.

Examples of customs are Javanese traditional wedding ceremonies, tooth-cutting ceremonies in Bali or the Bau Nyale tradition in Lombok, Ngaben, Galungan and Kuningan which are carried out by the Balinese.

Customs are attitudes or behavior of a person that is followed by other people, in the long term. These customs reflect the personality of a community in a particular area.

Another definition of customs is an act that is carried out repeatedly, then becomes a habit and is respected by people. This continuous custom is also called adat. The existence of customs in an area, makes these habits grow, develop, and are obeyed by the surrounding community.

Customs can be related to the norms and behavior of society. Norms become habits and binding rules. If it is violated, then the individual, group or community will receive sanctions.

Indigenous peoples is a general term or concept used in Indonesia to refer to customary law communities (adat rechtsgemeenschappen) that already existed during the Dutch East Indies occupation at that time. In legal science and theory, they are formally known as Indigenous Peoples, but in recent developments, indigenous Indonesians refuse to be grouped in such a way, considering that customary matters do not only concern law, but cover all aspects and levels of life.

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The concept of indigenous peoples or also called customary law communities has been developed by legal and social science scholars since the Dutch colonial period. Indigenous people itself is a concept to designate indigenous communities which constitute the largest part of the population of the Dutch East Indies at that time.

In short it can be said that practically and for the benefit of understanding and interpreting this Declaration in the field, the words “indigenous peoples” and “indigenous peoples/communities” are used interchangeably and contain the same meaning.



Definition of Customs According to Experts

The following is the definition of customs according to experts, as follows:

1. Soekarno

Customs have a strong influence and ties in society. These bonds depend on and support customs in society.

2. Raden Supomo

According to Raden Soepomo, customs are customary law or a synonym for unwritten law. Law as a convention in state legal entities, and life becomes a customary rule in urban and village life.

3. Harjito Notopuro

Harjito explained that customary law is unwritten law. The community considers customs to be a way of life for justice and prosperity.

4. Jalaluddin Tunsam

Customs come from the Arabic word ‘adah’ which means custom or method. According to Jalaludin, customs are an idea that contains cultural values, habits, norms, and laws in an area. There are written and unwritten sanctions if customary law is not obeyed.

5. Koen Cakraningrat

Custom is a form of embodiment of culture or an image as a code of conduct. Custom is an unwritten norm or rule, but its existence is binding. Someone who violates will be subject to sanctions.

Those are some definitions of customs from several experts. From all the meanings above, it can be said that customs are a tradition or habit that has been carried out by the local community for a long time. In addition, customs must always be preserved so that they do not become extinct.

Various Kinds of Customs

The true customs are customs that are timeless by heat, not weathered by time, moved and not withered, washed away with water. That is, all the provisions that exist in nature have properties that will not change.

For example, a deforested forest is the cause of a flood, evil will be punished, goodness will bring happiness, and so on. Adat that is customary is all the provisions that apply in society. These provisions are modified by rules based on the nature of things in nature.

The point is to regulate social life in terms of order, economy and socio-culture. Customary customs are rules that are formed based on deliberations. Each community group has rules and procedures that are different from other community groups. Customs are the habits or preferences of the local community when carrying out parties, arts, entertainment, clothing, sports, etc.

Customs can be written and unwritten.

Written Customs

Examples of written customs include:

  1. King’s charters (king approval letters, customary heads
  2. Written customary law alliance regulations such as village upgrading, village religion, awig-awig (Subang Regulations on Bali Island).

Unwritten Customs

Examples of unwritten customs include:

  1. Ngaben ceremony in Balinese culture.
  2. Offerings in Javanese society.
  3. The ceremony of salvation which marks one’s life in Sundanese society.

Customary law

Tradition comes from habits that are carried out repeatedly. Then, this custom is passed down from generation to generation. After customs, customary law emerges which develops from community traditions. Customary law is different from written law in state law.

According to Van Vollenhoven, customary law is the overall rules of community behavior. These rules apply in certain areas and there are appropriate sanctions. The definition of Ter Haar, customary law is all the rules that are embodied in customary decisions and apply. The definition of customary law according to these experts can be concluded that customary law is an unwritten norm or rule. The making of these rules functions to regulate people’s behavior and there are sanctions. The 1945 Constitution regulates customary law in article 18B paragraph (2).

In the contents of the article, namely ” The state recognizes and respects customary law community units along with their traditional rights as long as they are still alive and in accordance with the development of society and the principles of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, which are regulated in law.”

The state recognizes the existence of customary law as a legal system in Indonesia. According to the Tojo Una-Una Regional Regulation on the Empowerment of Customary Preservation and the Establishment of Customary Institutions, customary law is a law that truly lives in the conscience of the community members and is reflected in their patterns of action in accordance with customs and socio-cultural patterns that are does not conflict with regional and national interests.

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Customary law is often referred to as living law in society (living law). Customary law has values ​​that are considered sacred or holy. Customs show forms, attitudes, human actions in customary law communities to maintain the customs prevailing in their environment.



Examples of Customs

Several regions in Indonesia still adhere to the traditions of their ancestral heritage. These customs become traditions for a series of events such as weddings, deaths, pregnancies, and the arts. Then, what customs are still valid today? The following are examples of customs in Indonesia:

1. Sekaten

An example of customs in Indonesia is Sekaten. This religious ceremony is held to commemorate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. Sekaten was held at the North Square of the Yogyakarta Palace.

The public and tourists can witness the Sekaten ceremony first hand. Sekaten became a community tradition in Yogyakarta when the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday.

There is a food procession and parade in the form of a mountain produced by the local community. The food is then paraded by courtiers and palace soldiers.

2. Sleep

Ngobeng is a tradition of entertaining guests by the people of Palembang, South Sumatra. The Ngobeng event is a form of respecting guests and strengthening friendship. Ngobeng is held for weddings, thanksgiving, circumcisions, and religious day celebrations. This tradition is eating together using hands while sitting cross-legged.

3. Bath Tian Mandaring

Lampung Province, Sumatra has a Tian Mandaring Bathing tradition. This tradition is a bathing ceremony for seven months pregnant. According to the beliefs of the local community, the Mandi Tian Mandaring ceremony aims to make the mother give birth safely. The child that was born was also safe and healthy without any disturbance.

4. Minangkabau customs

Minangkabau customs are regulations and laws or customary laws that apply in the social life of the Minangkabau people, West Sumatra. Minangkabau customs are also used and apply to Minang people who are abroad outside the Minangkabau area.

There are three customary provisions in Minangkabau custom known as “Tali Tigo Sapilin”. First, Commonly Owned Ulayat means that there is no individual ownership of Minangkabau customary land.

Second, the reduction of customary ulayat for mother-line women, women are entrusted with customary ulayat holders and passed on to their daughters as customary ulayat relay holders. Third, Islam is the religion of the Minangkabau Indigenous People.

5. Ngaben – Bali

Ngaben is a form of custom in Bali. Ngaben is classified as a ceremony addressed to the ancestors. Ngaben is the process of purifying the spirit by burning it with fire so that it can return to the Creator.

The purpose of the Ngaben ceremony is to speed up Sarira’s body so that it can return to its origin. Specifically, cremation is carried out because it is a form of love for the ancestors and the devotion of children to their parents.

6. Finger Cutting Tradition – Papua

Finger cutting is a traditional form of the Dani tribe in Papua. The tradition of cutting fingers is carried out when a relative has passed away. Quoting Merdeka, if the deceased is a parent, then two knuckles must be cut off.

As for relatives, only one finger knuckle will be cut off. Finger cutting is only done by Dani women. For men, they do ear trimmings.

7. The Kamomose Tradition – Central Buton

The kamose tradition is a hereditary tradition of looking for a mate which is still preserved today in the Lakudo district, Central Buton, Southeast Sulawesi. Kamomose is followed by girls who are not yet mature and accompanied by girls who are adults and are not yet married as guides during the kamose tradition.

Before the kamose event starts, the girls take seats that have been prepared beforehand or buete. The participants (kamoose) sit in a row facing the sikhipua or basin on which there is a light like a candle which is also called sulu tahu. The kamose activity begins with the beating of the gong as a signal that the event will begin.

8. Tedak Siten – Java


Almost every region in Indonesia has its own customs. Therefore, it is not wrong if Indonesia is known for its cultural diversity. So, it should be for the people of Indonesia to respect each other.

Traditions can become extinct if the younger generation does not preserve them. Therefore, all levels of Indonesian society should strive to preserve Indonesian customs. That way, customs can last longer, so that future generations can still see or participate in traditional activities in an area. Thus the discussion about the understanding of customs and examples.