Buddhist Religious Symbols Blasphemy

Mar 6th, 2009, in News, by

Some Buddhists are, eventually, up in arms over a Buddhist themed club in Jakarta, the Buddha Bar.

The Buddha Bar, a French franchise chain restaurant-lounge-pub, (‘soft’) opened in Jakarta late in 2008 at Jl. Teuku Umar, Menteng, and received some amount of attention, with one international review enthusing that Jakarta had now joined

the likes of London, New York and Dubai in hosting a Buddha Bar.

Jakarta in the last decade had become more cosmopolitan, the warm fuzzy glow of democracy shone, things dug out of the ground in the country had been fetching top dollar, and now with places like the Buddha Bar being opened the burgeoning class of stylish, wealthy, wine class attending people that these good times had produced had another place to parade at.

The review ended on a warning note, saying that in recent times Jakarta had been bombed by terrorists, Muslim militants sometimes smashed up bars that opened during Ramadan, and there had been shortages of wine. smh

None of these catastrophes has befallen the Buddha Bar in its short existence, but it is beset by another problem – Buddhists.

Several times in the last few days Buddhist student groups have protested outside the premises, demanding that it be closed down, or that it change its name to something less offensive. On 5th March 100 members of the Aliansi Mahasiswa Buddhis “sealed” the entrance to the Bar with police crime scene tape, and carried banners like:

Stop insulting Buddhism! The Buddha Bar disturbs harmony among religious groups!

Protest leader Eko Nugroho said detik

This is to show people that Buddhists will not [stand to] be insulted.

The management of the Buddha Bar, and its owners, who are Renny Sutiyoso (daughter of ex-Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso) and Puan Maharani (daughter of Megawati Soekarnoputri), seem to be keeping a low profile. detik

In Bali however, where there are a number of restaurants that use the name of “Buddha”, such as Buddha’s Belly Restaurant, Bali Buddha Restaurant, Buddha Haha Restaurant, there are not known to have ever been protests by outraged Balinese Buddhists. detik

The Buddha Bar formally changed its name on 22nd April 2009, “out of respect” for Indonesian Buddhists and the minister for religion. The bar’s new name is “Bataviasche Kunstkring”, the original Dutch name of the building. antara


81 Comments on “Buddhist Religious Symbols Blasphemy”

  1. avatar Rob says:

    So, perhaps this is political and designed to drag the names of Sutiyoso and Megawati into the fray as a means of unsettling their respective presidential campaigns?

    Indonesian politics, lovin’ it! (or is that McDonald’s?)

  2. avatar Brother Mouzone says:

    I can’t imagine the owners are losing too much sleep over militant buddhists… I’m sure they will be grateful for the free marketing though!

  3. avatar hariyangindah says:

    The practice in Indonesia is that it is okay to abuse anything about religion as long as it is not about Islam. So it is okay to burn down any other religious buildings as long as they are not Islam religious buildings. So it is okay to abuse any holy things about religions as long they are not about Islam. Perhaps there will soon be other bars like Jesus’ Bar, Shiva’s Bar. Well, I think Jesus doesn’t mind with this, because He likes drinking with His disciples, and Shiva has been know to be very fond of dancing, and I think He must also be very fond of having a party with His friends. So, there will be no problem. But I think the most suitable bar for a religious situation is this : BAR_ABBAS.

  4. avatar ET says:

    Aduh. Something is definetely wrong with the Indonesian mindset. Murah tersinggung, easily provoked and always ready for unjuk rasa (demonstrate). If he hadn’t already reached Nirwana, Buddha would certainly turn around in his grave.

  5. avatar Lairedion says:

    It’s funny to see these Buddhists use FPI-style methods to voice their disapproval. Sealing and praying in front of the building. Is this a new Indonesian phenomenon of growing exceptionally large toes?

    By the way, I do find the whole Buddha Bar concept distasteful and silly. Westerners have a tendency to label artifacts as exotic and downgrade religious figures and symbols to fashion statements. For instance, in the Netherlands there’s a clothing brand named Gsus and a porn distributor (!) called Shiva Entertainment.

  6. avatar TheWrathOfGrapes says:

    hariyangindah Says:
    March 6th, 2009 at 3:29 pm
    Perhaps there will soon be other bars like Jesus’ Bar, Shiva’s Bar. Well, I think Jesus doesn’t mind with this, because He likes drinking with His disciples

    This I like – Jesus’ Bar. Make it a Wine Bar. The cost of goods sold will be so low – just ask Him to turn water into wine…

  7. avatar Rama Treiz says:

    Is this the first time buddhists in Indonesia have protested like this? If this is the first time, then perhaps it has some sort of light political motive like what Ross mentioned in his post. Anyways if there is a Jesus bar, do we get free fish and loaves of bread too? 🙂

  8. avatar joao says:

    How about Jah Bar or Selassie Bar ? I don’t think the Rastafari brothers would mind at all. It would play reggae exclusively, sell ganja legally and serve I-tal . ‘Ya, man!’

  9. avatar Mr Tic Tac Toe says:

    Rama:

    Anyways if there is a Jesus bar, do we get free fish and loaves of bread too?

    No. But if you can get free public crucifixion if you want.

    …In fact i can arrange it for you now, what say you? 🙂

  10. avatar timdog says:

    In the Buddhist theocracy that was pre-1950s Tibet, people had their noses cut off for minor transgressions.
    Perhaps these protesters will soon be employing such tactics.

  11. avatar lucid says:

    So, perhaps this is political and designed to drag the names of Sutiyoso and Megawati into the fray as a means of unsettling their respective presidential campaigns?

    I like Rob’s sharp analyse. 🙂
    This is not about religious insult, it would different if Buddha’s Belly Restaurant, Bali Buddha Restaurant, Buddha Haha Restaurant, are vegetarian.

    and for BAR_ABBAS ha ha.. funny :mrgreen:

  12. avatar diego says:

    What about changing the name to “Bhubar”?

  13. avatar dragonwall says:

    The controversy is based on the word Bar. Whereas in Bali they made it specific. But anyway I do not think it has anything to do with blasphemizing a religion.

    I think it is good, in fact as they are actually promoting Buddhism. Otherwise why don’t they use Islam, Christian or Hindu.

    Buddhist needs to be more open minded but word like Vegetarian or Food before the word Bar would make it more appealling and less misunderstanding.

    I guess this is how Buddhism become that great entering into aspect of our lives. Nice

  14. avatar Barry Prima says:

    By the way, I do find the whole Buddha Bar concept distasteful and silly. Westerners have a tendency to label artifacts as exotic and downgrade religious figures and symbols to fashion statements.

    For once I agree with Lairedion or am I not allowed to do that Patung, it kind of goes against the ranting Muslim antagonist persona you have carefully crafted for me..?

    ….Once a religious symbol becomes a fashion statement, it starts to lose its potency in reminding people of the divine, which is its very purpose.

    This protest is definitely good… I like it!

  15. avatar schmerly says:

    That’s the problem Buddha is usually depicted as a fat jolly person, and therefore his image gets used for the wrong reasons, sadly it’s a bit demeaning for the Buddhists and I don’t blame them for being pissed off.

  16. avatar Lairedion says:

    timdog said:

    In the Buddhist theocracy that was pre-1950s Tibet, people had their noses cut off for minor transgressions.
    Perhaps these protesters will soon be employing such tactics.

    What has Tibet to do with this particular issue? Can you enlighten us?

  17. avatar rama treiz says:

    Now tic tac toe no need to get hostile. However maybe we both can get crusified together and share such a great experience together.

  18. avatar aku says:

    I’m a Buddhist, and I absolutely agree with Dragonwall. I am sure the owners have no intention to insult Buddhism.

  19. avatar timdog says:

    Lairedion: as perhaps the greatest object of indulgent Western imaginings about the exotic, “mysterious East”, and the focus of a great deal of patronising guff about Buddhism.

    Silly religious outrage and hypersensitivity appears to be an infectious disease.
    Certain shrieking beardy types are well-known for their wish to recreate an entirely imaginary 7th Century society. Perhaps then, if these affronted Buddhists start to enjoy getting all worked up they might cotton on to the idea recreating a “pure” Buddhist society, a la pre-1950s Tibet (I don’t really think so, but hey, you know, just throwing out an idea 😉 )…

  20. avatar Mr Tic Tac Toe says:

    Rama:
    Hostile? neah, you got me all wrong.

    Some pinoy friends of mine told me that you can get public crucifixion in philipines by paying small amount of money.

    But if you want to share the experience, can i be the pretend jesus? lol

  21. avatar schmerly says:

    Mr Tic Tac Toe.. Now that’s freaking weird!! if it’s true.

  22. avatar Mr Tic Tac Toe says:

    schmerly:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crucifixion#Crucifixion_as_a_devotional_practice

    Backwardness happens in any religion, including religion of non-believers.

    Be fair, we must.

  23. avatar schmerly says:

    Mr Tic Tac Toe.. Yea I’ve seen this sort of thing on TV, the Indians have some strange rituals to, hanging from hooks stuck through their skin Etc., still freaking weird!!

  24. avatar ET says:

    Barry Prima

    This protest is definitely good… I like it!

    How come I’m not surprised?

  25. avatar schmerly says:

    And see who owns the Buddha joint, Sooty and Meggas brats: Renny Sutiyoso and Puan Maharani, good old KKN still alive and kicking.

  26. avatar Oigal says:

    This I like – Jesus’ Bar. Make it a Wine Bar. The cost of goods sold will be so low – just ask Him to turn water into wine…

    and we could get pretend horses and we then we could pretend to fly on the horses back from the carpark to the bar..where underage wives could serve the drinks..or not

  27. avatar Lairedion says:

    timdog,

    I acknowledge the disproportionate sex-appeal of Tibet (over Xinjiang) and Buddhism in general in the Western mindset. Tibet used to be a brutal feudal society and Sri Lanka are having loads of militant Buddhists (mixed with Sinhalese ethnic supremacist thoughts) inciting violence. Facts largely ignored or unheard off in the West.

    But can we leave out speculative ideas (in which you yourself don’t believe in) and focus on what’s real and present?

  28. avatar schmerly says:

    Oigal.. Now your being facetious, LoL!!

  29. avatar Burung Koel says:

    This I like – Jesus’ Bar. Make it a Wine Bar. The cost of goods sold will be so low – just ask Him to turn water into wine…

    From the inimitable King Missile:

    Jesus was way cool
    Everybody liked Jesus
    Everybody wanted to hang out with him
    Anything he wanted to do, he did
    He turned water into wine
    And if he wanted to
    He could have turned wheat into marijuana
    Or sugar into cocaine
    Or vitamin pills into amphetamines

    He walked on the water
    And swam on the land
    He would tell these stories
    And people would listen
    He was really cool

    If you were blind or lame
    You just went to Jesus
    And he would put his hands on you
    And you would be healed
    That’s so cool

    He could’ve played guitar better than Hendrix
    He could’ve told the future
    He could’ve baked the most delicious cake in the world
    He could’ve scored more goals than Wayne Gretzky
    He could’ve danced better than Barishnikov
    Jesus could have been funnier than any comedian you can think of
    Jesus was way cool

    He told people to eat his body and drink his blood
    That’s so cool
    Jesus was so cool
    But then some people got jealous of how cool he was
    So they killed him
    But then he rose from the dead
    He rose from the dead, danced around
    Then went up to heaven
    I mean, that’s so cool
    Jesus was way cool

    No wonder there are so many Christians

  30. avatar Devi Girsang says:

    So I heard. Actually before all the protests, I’ve read comments at The Jakarta Post on-line article of the opening party of Buddha Bar in Jakarta. Some of them sounded very cynical, but deep down I believe Buddhists love tranquility so I was a bit surprised to see the protests on TV.

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