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The Indonesian Osing people are the descendants of the Majapahit princes who refused to convert to Islam in the 16th century. Their population of approximately 400,000 is centered in the province of East Java in the district of Banyuwangi. The Osings speak a dialect which shows influences from both the Javanese and Balinese
Religion and Culture
The Osings are adherents of either the Muslim or Hindu faith. Elements of Animism can be seen in their religion too. The Osings share a similar culture and spirit with the Balinese, and the Hindus celebrate ceromonies like Nyepi. It is not uncommon to see mosques and puras (Hindu temples) to be built nearby to each other in Banyuwangi. About 2-3,000 of them are Christians, who also mix some Hindu or Muslim beliefs into their religion.
The history of the Osings date back to the end of the 15th century, at the time of the fall of the Majapahit kingdom, and for the sake of resisting the conversion of Islam, many of them fled east to Banyuwangi, Bali and Lombok, and later it was converted to Islam by the Muslim Makassarese in the 16th century. The princes from Majapahit thus established the Bambangan kingdom, which stretched from the Blambangan peninsula right up to the Tengger mountains of Central Java. The Blambangan kingdom held sway for slightly more than two hundred years, before they finally surrendered to the second Mataram kingdom in 1743. Even then, they did not officially convert to Islam until the 19th century, though small communities of Muslims do pre-exist this date. The cause of the Osing's conversion is that, during the 19th century, when Banyuwangi was still unscathed by the Dutch colony, but knowing that by launching an attack on Banyuwangi, they will lose out in the battle as the Hindu principal puputan was a fight-to-death, the Dutch sent Moslem (and Christian) missionaries to tame the fighting spirit. Only then Banyuwangi was captured, a long and ambitious dream toward further occupation on Bali was launched by the Dutch.
Even though the Dutch have converted many of the Osings to Islam (and Christianity), it is not that easy to tame the fighting of many of the Osings who refuse to convert to Islam. Today, a large Hindu population still prevails among the Osings.
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