Being an Indonesian in a foreign land may feel like a fish out of water. It takes time for us to assimilate ourselves into a new unfamiliar culture and to acclimatise our lifestyle in favour of a different lifestyle. At a glance, the east and the west seem to hold a contrasting take on what is perceived as acceptable and what is not. With such a big difference in mannerism and lifestyle, it is easy to imagine the loss of one culture once we choose to adopt the other. However, as we see in many community groups, this does not always have to be necessarily true. In fact, many of them have come to embrace the cultural diversity of living in a foreign land, preserve their own culture and have taken it upon themselves to share their culture with their friends. In this edition, we will zoom in on one such community – Paguyuban Pasundan.

In finding out more about Paguyuban Pasundan, we interviewed Satianugraha Saefullah (more intimately known as Kang Cepi) on the history and purpose of the community group. He is currently the head of Paguyuban Pasundan, was originally born in Garut and grew up in Bandung. With a kind smile and an easygoing personality, it is a true privilege to have been able to interview Kang Cepi about Paguyuban Pasundan.

Paguyuban Pasundan (a.k.a. PANDAN) was first founded by a community of Indonesian Sundanese residing in Melbourne. It was originally meant as a community group for Sundanese Indonesian to meet each other and share their common cultural root. Since then, it has transformed into a creative avenue for Indonesian to share their own art and ideas while still retaining the Western Javanese ancestral and cultural values. It has also been recognised as an official branch by the parent community of Paguyuban Pasundan in Indonesia.

As for the members, everybody can be a part of the community so long as he/she has a keen interest and strong desire in spreading the values and culture of Western Java in Melbourne. This goal has always been the focus of the group and it is not surprising to see that many of their engagements in Melbourne revolve around this very notion. Working closely with local Melbourne governments through the Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC), Paguyuban Pasundan has been involved in the Australia Day Parade, the Moomba Parade and the Pako Festival in Geelong. The community group has also been involved in the “Multicoloured Journey” Project held by Gippsland Indonesia-Australia Association (GIAA), organised two theatrical musical titled “Kabayan Mencari Cinta” and “Kabayan Gets Married in Melbourne” from scratch and has pioneered Parahyangan Night Market in the Consulate General for the Republic of Indonesia in Melbourne. True to their goal, each event and involvement has focused on spreading and preserving the Indonesian and Western Java cultures, the core value of the group.

When asked what it personally means for him to be a part of Paguyuban Pasundan, Kang Cepi answered that it is a self-reminder for himself to always cherish the origin of his ancestral root. He is very proud of the PANDAN community’s camaraderie and feels like he is surrounded by his friends and family much like it is in Indonesia. It truly made him feel like he is home away from home.

As he finishes his answer, he adds a sentence that rings true to any community group based in Melbourne “If it’s not going to be us (who will uphold and value the culture of our own hometown), who else are we supposed to rely on?”

Texts: Edward Tanoto

Photos: Paguyuban Pasundan