Greetings and Civilities
Sasak does not have greetings such as "Good Morning". A
Sasak approaching a friend might ask, in the local language,
" How are you?, How's your family?" simply as a form of
greeting. Locals will frequently ask foreigners like this in
English (it may be their only English!) as a greeting. Don't
get annoyed - they are just trying to be polite. A smile and
a "hello", or greeting in Indonesian, is a polite and
Unlike the Muslims in general, the Sasak in Northern and
west Lombok have a caste system. There are four caste
castes, the highest being Datu for men and Denek Bini for
women, the second Raden for men, and Denda for women, the
third Buling and the fourth Jajar Karang. In Central and
East Lombok, Lalu for men and Lale for women.
Traditional law (adat) is still fundamental to the way of
life on Lombok today, particularly customs relating to
courting and marriage rituals and circumcision ceremonies.
In western Lombok you can see Balinese ceremonies and
temples with colorful procession and decorative offerings.
Sasak ceremonies are often less visible, though you may see
colorful procession as well. Ask around and you can probably
find when and where festivals and celebrations are being
The laws of Islam require that all boys be circumcised
(Nyunatang), and in Indonesia this usually done somewhere
between ages of 6 to 11 years old. Much pomp and
circumstance mark this occasion on Lombok. The boys are
carried through the village streets on painted wooden horses
or lions with tails of palm fronds. The circumcision is
performed without anesthetic as each boy must be prepared to
suffer pain for Allah.
Young couple in Lombok have a choice of three rituals; the
first is an arranged marriage, the second a union between
cousins, and the third elopement. The first two are
uncomplicated: the parents of the prospective bridal couple
meet to discuss the bride's dowry and sort out any religious
differences. Having handled the business arrangements, the
ceremony called "sorong serah" is performed.
The third method is far more complicated and dramatic.
Theoretically a young girl is forbidden to marry a man of a
lower caste, but this rule can be broken through kidnapping
and eloping. As a result, eloping is still a widespread
practice on Lombok, despite the fact that in most instances
the parents of the couple know what's afoot. Originally it
was used as a means of eluding other competitors for the
girl's hand or in order to avoid family friction, but it
also minimized the heavy expenses of a wedding ceremony. The
rules of this ritual are laid down and must be followed step
by step. After the girl is spirited away by the boy, he
required to report to the Kepala Desa (Chief of the
Village). The Kepala Desa then notifies the girl's family
through the head of their village. A delegation from the
boy's family visits the girl's parent, and between them they
settle on a price for the bride, a fine (uang adat) which is
distributed among members of the bride's family in
recompense for losing her.
Traditional dowries are worked out according to the caste
differences; the lower his caste and the higher hers, the
more he has to pay. Once this has been settled the wedding
begins. Generally the bride and the groom dressed in
ceremonial clothes, carried through the village's street,
accompanied with sounds of traditional music (gamelan)
mingle with the shouts and laughter of the guests as the
couple are swooped up and down and around on their way to
the wedding place. Throughout the whole ceremony, the bride
must look downcast and unhappy at the prospect of leaving
Most people on Lombok are bilingual, speaking their own
ethnic language, Sasak, as well as the national language,
Bahasa Indonesia, which they have learned at school and use
as their formal and official mode of communication. English
is becoming more widely spoken on Lombok includes Police and
other officials. Travelers without a grasp of Bahasa can
get by, but some knowledge of it enhances an understanding
of the island and could also be valuable an an emergency.
Check out the Learning Bahasa Indonesia page to understand
most common used phrases.
In the main Tourist area; Senggigi, Gili Islands and Kuta
Beach Lombok, numbers of Tourist's Restaurant available
serving Western food, Indonesian and Chinese food. In
Mataram and in some remote area on Lombok, Indonesian food,
Padang food and Chinese food are dominating. Rumah Makan
(eating place) can be found easily in Mataram, Ampenan and
in most main street. Sasak Food uses white rice as staple,
served with vegetable curries or soup, chicken, beef,
fishes, hot chilli and no pork. In Bahasa Indonesia, the
word Lombok means Chilli paper and it used liberally in
local cooking. The famous sasak food are:
- Ayam Taliwang, fried or grilled wild young chicken with
chili sauce is originally from Taliwang Sumbawa, but it has
become a Lombok speciality.
- Sate Ikan Tanjung, one of the tastiest food on Lombok, originally
coming from a village called Tanjung - Northern Lombok.
Pieces of fresh snapper or tuna mixed with coconut milk,
lemongrass, garlic, chilli paper, spices, wrapped onto sate
stick and grilled. Try them on your way back from a day tour
from waterfall or gili Islands.
dish made from the pith of banana tree stem, with coconut
juice, garlic and spices.
Kangkung, very popular on Lombok as a daily dishes to eat
together with plain rice. Cooked water convolvulus
(kangkung), mixed with a sauce made with chili, fish paste
(terasi), tomato salt and lime.