Javanese in Sri Lanka

Photo Source:  Copyrighted © 2023
Kerry Olson  All rights reserved.  Used with permission
Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Javanese
Country: Sri Lanka
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 8,800
World Population: 18,382,800
Primary Language: Javanese
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Java
Affinity Bloc: Malay Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Javanese (Orang Jawa, "people of Java") originate from Central Java, Indonesia. In Sri Lanka, they are blended in with others who speak a Malay-based language. Therefore, they are considered "Malay" by many people. The Javanese have their own language called "Jawa" which is not spoken by the majority peoples in Sri Lanka. The Jawa language is still the language of the Javanese people in Sri Lanka, but they need to converse in either Tamil or Sinhalese, the two dominant languages of that island nation.

Where Are they Located?

Most Javanese live either in their native land, Indonesia or nearby Malaysia, but they are also in other countries, even some in Europe. Though they aren't prevalent in South Asia, there are a small number in Sri Lanka.

What Are Their Lives Like?

They are a 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.

What Are Their Beliefs?

They have been Muslims for centuries, but in the 1960s, they had a revival in Indonesia where many turned to Christ for life's answers. This revival did not affect the Javanese who had migrated to Sri Lanka, so these Javanese remain Muslim. The Javanese have a strong commitment Islam for cultural reasons.

During their Sunni Muslim 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.

What Are Their Needs?

The Javanese in Sri Lanka need the chance to allow Jesus Christ to bless and transform their lives, families and communities.

Prayer Points

Pray for gospel workers to catch a vision for reaching the Javanese people in Sri Lanka for Jesus and that in God's sovereign timing their hearts would be open and ready to follow Him.
Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended Javanese families so the gospel will spread rapidly among this people group.
Pray for the spiritual lives of the Javanese people in Sri Lanka to become fruitful as they follow Christ.
Pray for the lives and culture of the Javanese people to evidence the rule and reign of the Kingdom of God as they open to the gospel, and for the beauty of Jesus to be seen in them.

Text Source:   Keith Carey