Javanese, Orang Jawa in Malaysia





Largest Religion

Main Language


Introduction / History

The Orang Jawa ('people of Java', also known as 'Javanese') migrated from Central Java, Indonesia, to Malaysia from 1880 to 1930. They migrated to seek a new life away from the Dutch colonists who ruled Indonesia at that time. Today the Orang Jawa live throughout Peninsular Malaysia in parts of Perak, Selangor, and Kedah. There are also isolated communities in coastal areas of Sabah. Some Jawa have even gained influential positions in society. The Chief Minister of Selangor traces his roots back to Orang Jawa ancestors.

The Jawa language is being spoken less and less among today's younger Orang Jawa. Most of them have either never learned it or cannot remember how to speak it.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Recent generations of Orang Jawa who live in cities have assimilated with the general Malay culture. In the past their parents were farmers, construction workers and timber workers. Now they also work as bankers, pilots, engineers, accountants, and politicians. They are known to be efficient and industrious. Some Orang Jawa in Selangor work as Islamic religious teachers.

In some villages, the Orang Jawa maintain their identity and traditions. People from other Malay people groups who marry into an Orang Jawa family sometimes call themselves Orang Jawa, or Jawa Peranakan. Apart from growing their own vegetables and raising poultry, some villagers have also started their own tourism programs to promote the Javanese way of life.

The Orang Jawa are a very hospitable people, usually inviting visitors to share a meal with the family. Families are often quite large, some having between 10 and 17 children. Marriages are grand affairs that sometimes last up to three days. The giving of love gifts to the newlyweds is common. Emphasis is placed on helping one another during weddings rather than receiving large sums of money. As the Orang Jawa have become more successful in life, their desire to recover their cultural Javanese roots has grown.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Orang Jawa are predominantly Sunni Muslims. During weddings and circumcision rituals they perform the jedur (songs of praise to the prophet Mohammed) which is compiled in a book called Silawatan. They also perform the kempling (a type of dance giving praise to Allah) during religious occasions.

During the performance, they use a tool made from lamb's wool and wood. The Qur'an is read before and after the dance, and it takes a group of between ten to twenty people to perform it. The kempling performance is an opportunity for the Orang Jawa to get together to build ethnic solidarity and unity. It is also a time for discussing the challenges faced by the villages.

What Are Their Needs?

The Orang Jawa have a strong Islamic background. Pray that communication bridges into their culture could be used to meet the spiritual needs. Pray that the lives of committed believers will be a positive influence and could bring about good relationships with Orang Jawa people.

Profile Source:   Southeast Asia Link - SEALINK   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

Video Links:
People Name General Javanese
People Name in Country Javanese, Orang Jawa
Population in Malaysia 641,000
World Population 17,189,000
Countries 8
Progress Scale 3.2
Least-Reached No
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Jawa, Orang Jawa
Affinity Bloc Malay Peoples
People Cluster Java
People Name General Javanese
Ethnic Code MSY44g
People ID 17000
Country Malaysia
Region Southeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 37  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Javanese (641,000)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Javanese 641,000
For Primary Language: Javanese

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible Portions Yes   (1852-1991)
New Testament Yes   (1829-1981)
Complete Bible Yes   (1854-1994)
Audio Bible Online
Resource Format
Audio Bible teaching (GRN) Audio Recordings
Bible-in-Your-Language Text / Printed Matter
Bible: Javanese Bible Text / Printed Matter
Fathers Love Letter Film / Video
Four Spiritual Laws General
Got Questions Ministry General
Jesus Film: view in Javanese Film / Video
My Last Day (Jesus Film Project Anime) Film / Video
Online New Testament (FCBH) Audio Recordings
Online Scripture (Talking Bibles) Audio Recordings
Story of Jesus audio (Jesus Film Project) Audio Recordings
World Missionary Press Booklets Text / Printed Matter
Primary Religion: Islam

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 7.00 %)
14.00 %
Ethnic Religions
30.00 %
0.00 %
54.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
2.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
5.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
55.0 %
Roman Catholic
40.0 %
Photo Source: Nir Nussbaum   Creative Commons  
Map Source: Southeast Asia Link - SEALINK   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Video Source: Create International
Profile Source: Southeast Asia Link - SEALINK   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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