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Story Publication logo August 8, 2022

The Last Hope of the Jungle Flowers (bahasa Indonesia)

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The Orang Rimba's bond to the gods fuels their loyalty to protect Bukit Duabelas. Biodiversity is...

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This story excerpt was translated from bahasa Indonesia. To read the original story in full, visit Harian Kompas. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.


The scent of flowers and the chanting of the shaman invoke the ivory bird god. In the middle of a dense forest, the Orang Rimba baby bathing ritual was held in early July. The first wash of river water marks the bond of the human child to nature.

Yellow flowers (Saraca asoca) are held up at the end of the bollards leading to the footbridge by the river. The delicate scent of the "sacred plant" is believed to bring in the gods. Apart from the bird gods who will drive away evil spirits, there are also tiger gods and mergo gods to ward off disease.


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"Disease goes downstream, the gods guard upstream," is how the shaman prayed.

In the midst of chanting the mantra, the baby's grandmother continues to dance. Her hands flapped like eagles, accompanied by the sound of drumming, keeping the rhythm to keep the gods present.


Orang Rimba baby bathing ritual in Bukit Duabelas National Park, Sarolangun, Jambi. Image by Irma Tambunan/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Residents of the Orang Rimba community perform a baby bathing ritual in the Punti Kayu area, Bukit Duabelas National Park, Jambi, Saturday (7/2/2022). Forest conservation needs to be strengthened as a living space for the inland community. Image by Irma Tambunan/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Flowers are placed on one of the poles as a ritual tool for bathing Orang Rimba babies in Bukit Duabelas National Park, Sarolangun, Jambi, on Saturday (7/2/2022). Conservation is urgently strengthened to maintain biodiversity in the forest. Image by Irma Tambunan/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Residents enjoy a meal after the ritual of bathing a child in the Orang Rimba community in Bukit Duabelas National Park, Sarolangun, Jambi, Saturday (7/2/2022). Image by Irma Tambunan/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Mother Nidar carries her baby to the child bathing ritual in the Orang Rimba community in Bukit Duabelas National Park, Sarolangun, Jambi. Image by Irma Tambunan/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

The conversion of the Bukit Duabelas ecosystem in Jambi has turned the home of the Orang Rimba community into private palm oil plantations. A number of residents were seen picking up loose fruits that fell on the ground, 2014. Image by Irma Tambunan/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

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