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The daughter of Sukarno, Indonesia’s founding father and first president, on Tuesday converted from Islam to Hinduism, an unorthodox move in the world’s most populous Muslim country.
Sukmawati Sukarnoputri, 69, embraced Hinduism in a ritual called ‘Sudhi Wadani’ . The ceremony took place at the Sukarno Centre Heritage Area, named after her father, located inside the Buleleng Regency in Bali.
According to media reports, Sukmawati’s Balinese grandmother, Ida Ayu Nyoman Rai Srimben, played a major role in influencing her decision to convert to Hinduism. It may be pointed out that the main religion in Bali is Hinduism, though it is quite different from the Hindu religion practiced in India.
While informing the press about Sukmawati’s decision to embrace Hinduism, her lawyer mentioned that she has extensive knowledge of all doctrines and rituals of Hindu theology.
A close friend of Sukmawati told the South China Morning Post that her relatives had given their blessings for the religious conversion. The friend described her conversion as a “demonstration of courage” and a shining example of the Sukarno family’s “religious tolerance”.
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He also shared that Sukmawati had been interested in Hinduism for the last 20 years and has visited major temples in Bali and read great Indian epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Active in her nation’s politics, Sukmawati belongs to the influential and respected Sukarno family. Her parents played a key role in Indonesia’s struggle for independence from Dutch colonial rule. After the country was declared independent in 1945, her father Sukarno became the first president and served for 22 years, till he was deposed in 1967.
Sukmawati’s elder sister Megawati Sukarnoputri was the fifth president of Indonesia, while she herself founded the Indonesian National Party (Partai Nasional Indonesia-PNI), which contested several national elections.
Interestingly, back in 2018, she had called herself a “proud Muslim” after conservative Islamic groups reported her to the police for blasphemy for reciting a poem at a fashion event that purportedly insulted the hijab and call to prayer.
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