Guide to do “Silaturahmi” in Javanese Village

Hi readers, I write this article especially for you, foreigners, expat, first-timer to go to village who want to have trip in Java, especially their village. Well, this comes from my true story visiting a village near Temanggung (my girlfriend’s home). Sorry for not bringing any pic because yeah, I forgot. I really enjoyed my time there.

So first, let me explain to you what is “Silaturahmi.” “Silaturahmi” comes from Arabic (because mostly Indonesian are moslem), which means close relationship. So, having or doing silaturahmi means trying to have closer relationship with someone else (or another family). Javanese people love to do it. So, prepare yourselves to do it also.

First of all, don’t get surprised with the tea. I disagree with the stereotype of British people and their tea. Javanese people do it better. When you arrive at their home, the first question they ask would be, “Teh opo Kopi?” (Tea or Coffee?). They don’t ask, “Would you like some drinks?” NO! They don’t care if your stomach are already full of water. They wanna make sure that their guest wouldn’t be dehydrated.

But don’t worry, their tea are sweet as sweet as their treatment to you. (and don’t forget about Javanese girl, the sweetest creature in the world. I’m glad having one as my girl)

Second, make sure you know the Javanese language. At least, make sure you have someone capable to speak Javanese to translate all the conversation for you. Javanese language here means the high-level language, the one you use to talk with elders. Mostly, people there don’t speak English, even some of them cannot speak Bahasa Indonesia. But, if for some reasons you cannot afford a translator, just smile, they love smile.

Next, the guest should ask question. Any question at all! Or compliment at least. If you don’t ask question, they will be confused. And they actually love to answer your question. If you are asking, means you respect them as the host. So just ask any random question like, “how many are your kids?” “Where are they now?” “What picture is that?” Try to make them tell you a story. and then smile.

Then, try to not refuse anything. They will force you to eat snacks, meals, even maybe they will force you to smoke. Try to not refuse it. But if you have to, refuse it politely. People there love to give their guest, anything they have in their home. In contrary, don’t be shy. If you love their foods, eat it! as much as possible. If you have to take the meals, make sure you take the rice. If you eat without rice, they will think you are weird. Trust me, their rice is delicious.

But, be careful. Because in one day you maybe will visit more than one house. Which means, you will eat in each house (and drink tea also). So prepare your stomach.

Last but not least, “Sungkem.” What is “Sungkem?” Sungkem is…. hm…. well, like this:


this is how Javanese people treat elders. So it is more than shake hand. Actually, in doing this, there is some words to say to the elder, but if you can’t speak Javanese, just do it. Make sure you do sungkem at least once before you leave the house.

One thing I love the most from these people is they give everything they got to their guest. They are not hiding anything. They don’t think about getting something from you. They just give. That’s the spirit of love.

Well, that’s all my guide for you. Hope you enjoy your trip in Java. Don’t get culture-shocked.

Love ya!

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