Introduction / History
The Rambang people live in an area spread across the regencies of Muara Enim, Ogan Ilir, Ogan Koemering Ilir and also in Pabumulih City. In Muara Enim Regency, they live in Tebat Agung District. In Ogan Ilir Regency, they live in several villages in Muara Kuang District. In Ogan Komering Ilir Regency they live in Tanjung Lubuk District in the villages of Penyandingan, Ulak Ketapang, Kuripan and a few others. In Prabumulih City, they live scattered throughout several districts in which they are the dominant group. The Rambang people are also sometimes called Rambang Dangku, Rambang Lubai, Rambang Kapak Tengah Dua, Rambang Senuling and Anak Rambang.
What are their lives like?
Rambang society is rich in various rituals oriented towards the natural environment, such as the life cycle, with birth and death rituals and Buang Juang, a farewell ceremony when one leaves the village to find work. Other rituals relate to special natural phenomena such as lunar and solar eclipses, requests for rain, earthquakes and others. The Rambang also highly value competitions in reading the Qur'an (Islamic holy book) and the Islamic Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). The Rambang people are inclined to live simply. Agriculture is the principal economic activity in the area and rice is the main crop. Wet rice plots are still worked mostly using water buffalo. In addition, corn, peanuts, fruits and vegetables are also grown. The Rambang are sometimes referred to as orang selengek, which is a term referring to their unique method of preserving fish. They also make various traditional items from bamboo, rattan, wood, roots and palm leaves. Rambang villages usually consist of 300-400 households. Houses are generally single-family dwellings of three or four rooms raised on stilts, with the area below the house used for storage, or in some cases, trade. The Rambang practice a bilateral inheritance system, which means that one's descent is traced through both the mother and father. Two types of marriage arrangements are practiced: 1) payment of bridewealth, which establishes a couple's residence with the groom's family and primarily affiliates any children with the father's line; 2) no payment of bridewealth, placing the groom in the bride's household and any children in their mother's line.
What are their beliefs?
The Rambang believe that their first leader to follow Islam was Lord Bintang Ruano. He introduced Islam to the people of Bengkulu and condemned the practice of Animism. Since that time, the people have ceased animistic sacrifice offerings, but they still believe in the existence of supernatural forces in certain objects. The teachings of the Sunni Shafi'I branch of Islam became the guidebook for their lives. Animist beliefs still influence the practice of Islam in Rambang areas. Ancestral burial grounds are still maintained and an annual ritual is held in which Rambang people honor their ancestors and clean their graves. At the same time, the majority of Rambang men go to the mosque every week for Friday prayers.
What are their needs?
People who live in Rambang villages have not yet adopted modern sanitation practices. They do not have designated places for bathing and washing and they do not have toilet facilities. Instead, the river is used for all of these activities and is considered to be more practical. Well water typically is used for drinking and cooking and is yellow in color. Thus, assistance in obtaining a supply of clean water would very much benefit the Rambang people.
Text source: Copyright © IPN, 2011. Used with permission.