Bandung is the capital of the Sundanese, the main culture of the provinces West Java and Banten. Within this cultural hemisphere, only Jakarta is excluded. The Sundanese have their own cultural legacy and language, which is truly unique and can be experienced in no place better than Bandung .
Predominantly, Sundanese people believe in monotheism as a form of organized religion, in this case Islam. During pre-Islamic period, dynamism and animism were two sets of beliefs that Sundanese practiced. Hence, these old belief systems coupled with Hinduism still play a big role in particular regions of West Java , i.e. Kampung Naga community and Baduy tribe . Although Sundanese are predominantly religious, they tend to also be very open-minded and welcoming to foreigners and their habits.
A distinct facet of Sundanese culture is its food. The whole of West Jawa and Bandung in particular, are a paradise for food lovers. Sundanese food distinguishes itself for the variety of steamed dishes, such as nasi timbel (rice steamed in banana leaf) and little packages called pepes (steamed fish, meat or tofu in banana leaf). Also Sundanese meals are often accompanied by raw vegetable salad, with spicy sauces.
Apart from these main dishes, Bandung has several specialties that can be found only in the city and are hugely popular with local tourists. Examples are surabi (sweet or salty filled little baked pancakes), cendol (a drink with jelly and sweetened with coconut milk and palm sugar), colenak (roasted cassave root, again with either sweet or salty topping) batagor (baso tahu goreng, fried chunks of fish and tahu eaten in a soup or dry with peanut sauce).
When walking around in Bandung , it is difficult to not think about food. It is virtually everywhere, from small street stalls to big family restaurants; you will never be more than 10 meters away from food. There is simply too much on offer to describe. The only way is to get out there and try ‘em one by one.
Sundanese like to party. Rites of passage such as circumcision and weddings are celebrated in big feasts, with whole neighborhoods showing up and joining in the fun and specially-prepared food. Marriage is conducted in extravagant celebratory feasts, with the bride and groom dressing up in elaborate Sundanese costumes, which will be changed no less than 5 times. Often a saucy Dangdut (very loud percussion fueled music accompanied by banal lyrics and erotic dancing) performance is hired that will make for a boombastic show during the whole day.
Sundanese communities are patrilineal, henceforth producing vast extended families from great grandfathers to newborn toddlers. In urban settings such as Bandung , families live in modern housing complex or flats but in rural setting they mostly live in “ Rumah Panggung ” which is a house built from wood that you can transport altogether when you move out.
Sundanese take a light view on things. This fun-loving frame of mind is manifested in traditional plays and puppet shows. Also, a favorite hobby of locals is to hang around and joke around. This pastime called nangkring shows the general good-hearted nature of the Sundanese, and the relaxed atmosphere, that will embrace you in this area.