[Catholic International is a traditionalist RC publication]

From ................. Catholic International

November 1995

Liturgy tribal dancing

pg 505

INDONESIA ..... Liturgy commissions of all six dioceses in Sumatera, western Indonesia, are exploring the possibility of integrating local tribal dances into Catholic liturgy. Meeting July 16-23 in Sibolga, about 840 kilometers northwest of Jakarta, 21 delegates from liturgy commissions of the Medan archdiocese and the the dioceses of Padang, Pangkalpinang, Palembang, Sibolga, and Tanjung Karang agreed that many local tribal dances could be used in liturgies. Jesuit Father Hans Meyer, a liturgy expert from Austria, encouraged participants to explore the possibilities in their respective dioceses.

"The inculturation of dances in the liturgy is based on the reasoning that God created our bodies, so we can also worship with our body movements. Liturgy is not just prayers and songs," Meyer said.

Tribal dances from the Mentawai isles in the Padang diocese, West Sumatera province, and Nias island in the Sibolga diocese, North Sumatera province, drew particular attention from the participants. One liturgy expert from Mentawai performed an inculturated "Alleluia dance" to accompany the exclamation before the Gospel reading. Selestes Saguruju, another Mentawai native, explained that the dance was adapted from 'kerei', a tribal dance that depicts a junior 'shaman' [traditional healer] tapping power from a senior 'shaman.' Saguruju argued that five Mentawai dances are candidates to be inculturated into liturgies. Participants from Nias reported that they have at least 12 tribal dances that could be used liturgically. One Nias participant decorated himself with flowers and leaves and performed inculturated dances for the beginning of Mass, the Gloria, and the final blessing.

Jesuit Father Edmund Prier, head of the Yogyakarta-based Center for Liturgical Music Developments warned participants about potential adverse effects of immature inculturation of tribal rituals. The German missioner urged participants to be wary of the "bad experiences" of the African Church with tribal dance inculturation in liturgy. "Frustrated with immature inculturation of tribal rituals in liturgy, many African Catholics then join rituals of tribal religions," Prier said.

Capuchin Father Victor Waruwu, who works in the Sibolga diocese, warned that a diocese's ethnic heterogeneity could pose problems. Waruwu expressed concern that inculturation of one ethnic tribal group's culture could cause resentment in other groups whose tribal cultures were not adopted. "Besides creativity, wisdom is needed to avoid conflict in our effort to inculturate tribal rituals in liturgy," Waruwu said. UCANEWS, August 23, 1995