Who are the Ogan?

The Ogan live along the Ogan River in an area that stretches from Sugih Waras Village to the city of Palembang. There are also some Ogan in Lampung Province. The Ogan live alongside the Meranjat, Komering, Rambang, and Daya people in these areas.

What are their lives like?

Ogan villages usually consist of 300-400 families. Single-family homes are built on wooden stilts, and have three to four rooms. The area beneath the house is used for storage and as a space for work.

In an occupied area, the Ogan usually form one or two villages, each made up of a large number of these raised houses. They generally live in a location separate from their fields. In Lampung Province, Ogan settlements are easily identifiable because their houses are quite different in style from the houses of the Lampung people groups. Traditional Ogan houses usually have small terraces on the sides.

The Ogan practice two customary forms of marriage. In the first, the groom must give a dowry to the bride’s family. The new couple lives in the husband’s family’s home. Their children are considered descendants of the husband’s family. In the second form, no dowry is paid. The new couple lives in the wife’s family’s home. Their children become part of the wife’s family. Married couples are responsible for caring for their family members and managing the family’s land and assets, including contributions toward expenses for traditional ceremonies.

Farming is the principal economic activity in the Ogan area. There are three main crops: rice, rubber and coffee. Crops are typically planted with 5 to 10 hired workers, or family members working in shifts. Harvests involve groups of men and women including the farmer’s family.

What are their beliefs?

Each village has its own distinct story about their origin and how they became Muslims. The Ogan have practiced Sunni Islam since the 16th century. Toward the end of the 16th century they were also introduced to Sufism. They observe all of the Islamic holidays, such as Idul Fitri (end of the Ramadan month of fasting) and Idul Adha (celebration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son). They tend to believe in superstitions related to spirits that inhabit certain places and objects.

Ogan social and spiritual life revolves around activities such as religious feasts, birth rituals, ceremonies to ensure protection, and celebrations to give thanks for the harvest. At these events, Ogan people gather to recite Islamic prayers and also perform ritual prayers to the spirits of their ancestors.

What are their needs?

The Ogan plant only one crop of rice per year even though most of them live along the Ogan River, a large waterway into which many smaller rivers in South Sumatra flow. The adoption of irrigation practices using river water would allow the Ogan to grow two to three crops of rice per year.

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