The Tengger people group live around Mount Bromo in East Java. They live in parts of four regencies: Pasuruan, Probolinggo, Lumajang, and Malang. The Tengger are Hindu. According to legend, they are the direct descendents of the Majapahit Empire.
The name Tengger comes from a combination of the two names of the founders of the people group: Joko Seger and Roro Anteng. “Teng” comes from ‘An-teng’ and “ger” comes from ‘Se-ger.’ The Tengger dialect of Javanese is came from the old Kawi variety of Javanese.
What are their lives like?
The Tengger community is in a cool mountainous region (with temperatures of 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit at night). The fertile land makes it ideal for planting vegetables. As a result, about 80% of the Tengger people work as farmers. The most common crops grown in the Tengger region are potatoes, cabbage, and onions.
The Tengger area is a tourist destination. All year local and foreign tourists visit this area to watch the beautiful sunrise over Mount Bromo. Tourists also come to experience life in Tengger and the strong local commitment to traditional customs. As a result, many Tengger people also work in the tourism industry as hotel workers, tour guides, etc.
Because the Tengger work as farmers and regularly give a warm welcome to tourists, they are considered simple and open. Even their local language, Tengger Javanese, expresses simplicity in that it does not employ the complicated system of politeness levels that are generally found in Javanese dialects.
What are their beliefs?
The Tengger area has long been considered a holy place, ever since the Majapahit era. Since that time the inhabitants have been regarded as worshippers of Sang Hyang Widi Wasa (a Hindu god).
To this day, the Tengger community follows a Hindu tradition stretching back to the Majapahit Empire. There are strong similarities between the Hinduism in Bali and the Tengger variety. Both are called Hindu Dharma.
However, the Tengger variety does not have a caste system and the Tengger people’s traditions are based on those originating from the Majapahit era. For the Tengger, Mount Bromo (Brahma) is believed to be a holy mountain. Every year the Tengger hold a ritual known as Kasada. This event is held in the temple at the foot of the Mount Bromo crater. In the middle of the night on the full moon of the 10th Javanese month (Kasodo), adherents bring offerings and throw them into the smoking crater.
What are their needs?
Most Tenggerese only have a junior high school education. Although those who are more affluent send their children to the city for school, opportunities for education in the area are still lacking.