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A Papua New Guinea wedding

99It was a wedding I could not pass up – a traditional tribal ceremony in the remote southern highlands of Papua New Guinea and I was invited as family.

Komya village was once home for Moses, the bridegroom. After being abandoned as a child and on the verge of starvation, he was taken in by an Australian couple and ended up in Melbourne.

There he met Danielle – my niece. They were only 13 years old, but romance slowly blossomed and a decade later they decided to marry.

Though outwardly a genuine “dinky-die” Aussie who works as a nurse, Moses retained his cultural roots, so the young couple decided they would journey back to Komya for their wedding.

Moses entered the world as the fifth child, of the fifth wife, of the clan chief.

When his father died, his mother remarried into a rival clan, but her children were not welcome and had to stay behind and fend for themselves. They were rejected by their large extended family who were unable to grow enough sweet potato, the staple crop, to feed the extra mouths.

But in a strange twist of fate, Moses was now returning triumphant, with an unknown bride from an unfamiliar place. In Komya, this had never happened before.

800 languages

From a small airfield in the provincial capital, Mendi, our wedding party bounced its way along the pitted highway that cut through the lush rainforest.

Throughout the three hour journey, locals waved at us, bringing our vehicles to a stop.

They wanted to chat to Moses, and peer curiously at all of us – white-skinned foreigners. Animated conversations took place in a mix of English and Pidgin – two of the more than 800 languages spoken in Papua New Guinea.

News of the big event had evidently spread far and wide. Hundreds of people walked to Komya for the ceremony.

Marriage in this part of the country is a commercial transaction. The groom’s family negotiates a price with the family of a woman from another village.

If he can afford her, a deal is struck and she will move to the hut he will build on his land. The bride price is measured in pigs and shells, but these days bank notes are often thrown in for good measure.

In Port Moresby, the country’s capital, our taxi driver told us he had paid 30 pigs for his second wife. This made me realise what a bargain Danielle had been.

My niece had been deemed a four-pig bride, and some of the hapless creatures, fattened for a year, would be slaughtered, baked and eaten at the bridal feast.

Dead birds

On the wedding day, a soft rain fell. The women separated from the men.

A group of giggling, bare-breasted women surrounded us females and gently removed our clothes. They dressed us in two grass aprons, open at the sides.

Our faces were carefully painted in the village style – white from the nose to jaw, with yellow streaks above the brow and on the cheekbones.

Along with the face paint, the men were given spears or bows and arrows. They wore leaves at the back, a chest pad made of shell and stringy fibre, decorative armbands and headgear containing brightly feathered dead birds.

Then the village women linked arms and we bounced up and down rhythmically, whilst making a strange hissing sound. The men, standing opposite, did the same.

Young girls in the crowd squealed with delight and Danielle and Moses were married.

Then the “handing over of the pigs” ceremony began.

The villagers lining up on four sides of a square, facing the tethered animals in the middle. The bride’s relatives were summoned to inspect the pigs. That done, their ropes were untied and then they were handed over to Danielle’s mother.

In the interests of establishing a good relationship with the in-laws, she returned two pigs to the groom’s family. The other two had already been ear-marked for next day’s wedding feast. This was to be held on a patch of land belonging to Moses’ brothers.

The pigs were baked on banana leaves in pits filled with hot stones.

We had brought balloons and Frisbees for the village children, and as they giggled and jumped, the adults sucked the fat from young fern leaves that had cradled the pork meat as it cooked.

Papua New Guinea is not a poor country. It has substantial mineral wealth and a liquefied natural gas pipeline in construction that will bring in vast amounts of money.

But so far little of this wealth has trickled down to the people in Komya, who live without electricity or water in woven huts with dirt floors.

As dusk gathered, and the villagers hiked barefoot through deep mud to their homes, they did not have a candle between them.

Yet when I took a glance at my smartphone, I noted the excellent signal. Whatever basic services the villagers here lack, texting is not a problem.

The professional company acim provides all the information on a course in miracles audio.

Dayak wedding ceremony

98We’ve been to a fair number of wedding receptions over the past year in Kalimantan. Actually, Karen counts 11 that she has attended – Dayak, Banjar, Javanese (she’s a couple ahead of me…) – and we’ve been invited to even more. Interestingly, in no case have we met the Happy Couple before showing up at their wedding.

In a reversal of usual practice in Australia, the wedding reception is open to almost anyone who has some kind of connection to the wedding families (one wedding we attended had around 2000 guests), but the actual ceremony is usually a relatively private affair, attended only by family and close friends.

So we were delighted when our friend Lelie asked us to accompany her and her mother to the traditional Dayak wedding of two old friends of hers friends in Palangkaraya one recent evening. Lelie went to high school with Mensie (Mensie Martha Lovianie) and Alben (Briptu Alben Olandi Lambung). Although held in the capital city of the province, it was conducted as if it was held in a village, and as if the groom Alben  was coming from another village.

So, first the warriors of the village assemble and greet each other.

While awaiting the groom’s arrival, there’s time to make some wardrobe adjustments. Note the hornbill skulls and feathers in the headdresses.

There’s time also to limber up and practice a few dance moves with an attentive and proud teacher.

Soon everyone is ready. The gong orchestra is playing, and everyone looks down the road for the groom.

Then the groom arrives, flanked by his parents and an entourage of family members. But entry through the gate to the village is blocked (by some magic but flimsy-looking strings with flowers suspended from them) and, more convincingly, by a fierce-looking warrior in full war regalia, armed, poised and ready to fight.

This is the beginning of the Lawang Sakepeng ceremony. A male visitor to the village must prove his worthiness by fighting and defeating a local warrior at the gate. Only then will he be welcomed in – assuming that he is still alive and standing up. Nowadays it is all ritualised; the arrivee can nominate someone to fight on his behalf (presumably a better pugilist), and the fighting is a stylised dance, with no actual contact between the two ‘combatants’.

They circle around on either side of the entrance gate, gradually working in closer to each other, and to the magical strings that separate them. The music from the gong orchestra gets louder and faster, and the onlookers start calling out encouragement and cheering any impressive moves.

Then they engage in the hand-to-hand battle (without actually touching each other!), in the course of which the strings are torn down, the two fighters swap sides and the visitor, now proven to be a good fighter (or at least to have one on his staff as his ‘best man’) is admitted and welcomed to the village.

A dance is performed to welcome and honour the visitor and his family. Having made it through the initial challenge, they are now treated with great courtesy and respect.

The groom is ushered in through all the wedding guests, to an inner room. He’s looking relieved – but his challenges aren’t over yet. There are  no less than 16 specific requirements that have to met before the wedding can occur. (This being 2015, all the proceedings are monitored on a video camera and screened in the courtyard outside for the guests to view.)

First up, once settled down inside, the groom’s and bride’s families exchange formal polite greetings and a number of gifts. The groom’s family give gifts of cash, a selendang, a gong, land (on which to build a house), and other things…

Then, down to business. The bride’s father asks: “Well, why have you come here?” And the groom (perhaps a little sheepishly) replies that he’s come to take a bride.

And so begins the process known as Pengantin Bayangan. Attendants come outside a locate an unmarried girl, seemingly at random, from amongst the guests and bring her inside. “Is this the one?” the groom is asked. He replies that no, she’s not the one. She’s not the right height, or the nose is wrong, or some such discrepancy. He apologises to her for embarrassing her in front of so many people, and gives her a gift of money. And the (no doubt relieved) girl is led back outside, and another is brought in for the same examination. This whole process was repeated three times, and caused much hilarity. We wished that we could have understood all of the exchanges going on (in Dayak Ngaju language, not Bahasa Indonesia) at this point.

Meanwhile, dancers helped the groom look for his bride-to-be, and entertained the small gathering of guests outside.

After a few errors, the ‘right’ girl is presented to the groom, who confirms that she is indeed Ms Right, and there are exchanges of vows and much celebration. No-one could tell us what would have happened if he chose the wrong fiancé, or if he rejected the right one – or if she rejected him at this point. They just looked horrified, and said that that simply doesn’t happen! It mustn’t actually have been too difficult for him to make the right selection, as his fiancé was wearing a matching outfit to his.

Both wedding costumes feature the motif of the batang garing (the Tree of Life), a central symbol for the Dayak Ngaju, complete with the four branches, spears and balanga (ceramic jar) at the base. (More about the batang garing at another time…)

More celebratory dancing, and then the warriors, reassured that they would not be called upon to fight, retired for the evening. (By this time the little warrior had already disrobed and disappeared. It might have been past his bedtime).

The bride is now introduced to all of the members of the groom’s family – a process known as Pakaja Manantu.

The next part of the ceremony was really interesting, and VERY different (and I have no photos…) Both families are active members of the Kristen (Protestant) Church. So, when the traditional ceremonies were over, a minister in conventional church attire presided over prayers, a sermon, and a number of hymns that we all sang from the hymn-sheets that were handed out. We sang Di Hatiku, ya Yesus (“In my heart, O Jesus”), Tiap langkahku (“My every step”), and Keluarga hidup indah (“Family life is beautiful”), amongst others.

The contrast between the two halves of the wedding ceremony was striking. But it was explained to us that the two parts are of equal importance: “The Lawang Sakepang ceremony is to show pride in our budaya and adat [culture and traditional customs]; the second part is our agama [religion]”. It’s a neat way to reconcile the two contrasting halves, but the distinction between adat and agama is not always so easily made – for example in the Tiwah funeral ceremonies. (But much more about that at another time…)

Sundanese Wedding Ceremony

97The Sundanese is an ethnic group which came originally (native) from Western Part of Java. Around 15% of Indonesians are Sudanese, centralized on West Java, Banten, and Jakarta, with majority embrace Islam as their religion.

As other Ethnicity in Indonesia, The Sundanese have their own tradition on beholding a wedding ceremony. Different than its ‘sister’ the Javanese, Sundanese wedding tradition less complicated and pay more attention to the Islamic Syariah than the culture itself.

1). Pengajian

Pengajian is the time where the family, friends, and neighbors of the bride and groom gather to read the Quran /Yasin, pray for the sake of the bride and groom and shalawatan (praise the Prophet Muhammad).  Pengajian hold by the groom and the bride separately, where the groom holds the pengajian for the male relatives and bride for the female relatives. Although in some case the pengajian being hold together. Pengajian doesn’t include as the syariah but still, it’s good for the future of groom and bride so God would bless them a happy marriage.

2). Siraman

Siraman means pouring the water. Hold separately, the groom and the bride are being ‘bathed’ by their parents and older relatives which had successfully managed their marriage life. The meaning of siraman is so the groom and bride would remember how the used to be bathed by their parents. The water for siraman mixed with seven different kinds of flowers (kembang tujuh rupa),  white and red roses petals, Michelia champaca (cempaka/champak), Magnolia × alba (cempaka putih/kantil/white champak),
cananga odorata (Kenanga/ylang-ylang), Jasmine, Polianthes tuberosa (sedap malam/tuberose), and Jasminum officinale (melati gambir/Common Jasmine). Siraman isn’t Islamic Syariah but allowed, as long as the bride doesn’t show her aurat.

3). Sungkeman

After the akad nikah (marriage blessing by religious leader), both bride and

groom would sungkem to their parents and if possible to grandparents, which

means both bowed their body and head in front of the elderly and asked for forgiveness. Parents than granted their blessings to both.

4). Saweran

Means to shower. The bride and groom are being given some advice by the elderly on how to live a life as a couple together. Saweran then continue by ‘showering’ people or guests with coins, candies, and rice. Coins mean wealth, rice means prosperity, candy means the sweetness of life. Guests would then try to catch the coins and candies.

5). Nincak Endog

Means step on an egg. It symbolizes that the bride is still a maiden and the groom would be the one that ‘breaks her’ (deflower). The bride than wash her husband’s foot as the symbol of devotion.

6).  Meuleum Haruput

Means burning the lidi (palm leaf rib). There are seven lidis and each are 20 cm long. After burning it, both groom and bride would drown the lidis together in a jar filled with water and break the jar together. It symbolizes every problems should be taken care in cold head and together, the husband and wife would solve every problems.

7). Ngalepaskeun Japati

Means free the pigeons. The mothers of grooms and brides hand them pigeons and release them together, symbolize that their responsibility as mothers ended up here.

8).  Huap Lingkung

First, the groom and the bride would be fed by parents, symbolizes that this is the last time parents would taken care of their children. Next, groom and bride feed each other.

9). Pabetot Bakakak

The groom and bride would pull a grilled chicken. The one that got the biggest part must share it to his/her partner. Symbolize that each things they earn should be shared.

Betawi Traditional Wedding Ceremony

96The series of stages in the Betawi Traditional Wedding Ceremony
Stages in the series of traditional Betawi wedding ceremony Betawi is a tribe in Indonesia located in Jakarta, it is interesting because now the capital of the State so as to maintain the culture of marriage will not be easy, busy work factor, which narrow land and the high cost of living makes custom wedding Betawi culture became infrequent, but the TEAP there to keep the identity of a tribe, these are some of the activities of indigenous Betawi wedding

1. Ngedelengin / introductions To get to the wedding, a young couple Betawi (now) usually through the level of courtship called berukan. This period can be known by the parents of both parties, but no stranger to both parties if parents do not know his son was dating.
Marriage system in the Betawi people basically follow Islamic law, to whom they are allowed or forbidden to hold a marriage relationship. In search of a mate, both young men and women are free to choose friends betawi their own lives. Because the opportunity to meet a potential friend’s life is not limited in his village, so many marriages occur betawi village youngsters with people from other villages. However, parental consent of both parties is very important, because the parents who will help terlaksanakannya wedding.
Usually the procedure to be taken before the implementation of traditional marriage is the direct introduction between young men and women. If you already have a match, then the youth’s parents applied to the parents of the girl. Period of introduction between men and women in ancient times the Betawi culture does not take place or happen just by itself. However, it is necessary mak comblang / intermediaries such as Encing or Encang (uncle and aunt) who will introduce the two sides.
Other terms are also known in the introductions before the wedding in a traditional Betawi is ngedelengin. First, in certain regions have a custom pair of fish hanging in front of the house of a girl when there is a happy girl. These fish hang the work done by the matchmaker / intermediary at the request of the parents of the youth. This is the beginning of the task and work ngedelengin.
Ngedelengin could be anyone, including the man himself. At a wedding there is usually a malem died. Such merriment involving youth participation. This is where the event a place to meet and mutual acquaintance between young men and women. Ngedelengin also be done by parents, although only in its early stages only.
After finding the preferred candidate, then matchmaker visit the girl’s house. After the talks with the parents of the girl, then give the money sembe mak comblang (angpaw) to the girl. Then after a match, comes the determination ngelamar / apply. At that time a spokesperson mak comblang about when and what will be built ngelamar.
2. Nglamar / apply
For the Betawi, ngelamar is a statement and an official request from the family of man (candidate master-in-law) to apply for women (none of candidates-in-law) to the family of a woman. When the party was also a family man got an answer of approval or rejection of such intent. At the time of application, it is determined the requirement for marriage, the bride of whom have already finished reading the Quran. Which must be drawn in this ngelamar are:
1. Betel application 2. Plantain 3. White bread 4. Complementary Gift 5. The delegates consisting of: mak comblang, Two representative pairs of parents-in-law of the prospective host family consists of a pair of representatives of the mother and father.

3. Bring a sign of end
The sign can be anything broken. But in traditional Betawi applicants usually give a ring as a sign of split rattan end. Tande end means that the bride had been bound and no longer be contested by other parties, although the implementation is done away tande breaking ceremony prior to the event.
Betawi people usually carry ngelamar event on Wednesday and the event brought tande done the same day broke up a week later. At this event delegates who came to meet the prospective family-in-law is none of those families that have been appointed and given the trust. Discussed at this event: 1. What cingkrem (dowry) which requested 2. value of money is needed for wedding receptions 3. what is required kekudang 4. pelangke or movers if there are brothers or bypassed yanng empok 5. how long the party held 6. how the wedding dress would use none-law at the reception 7. who and how many invitations.

4. Akad Nikah / promise to marry
Before the ceremony held by custom, must first do a series of pre-marriage contract that consists of: 1. Dipiare period, which is maintained by the future bride or handyman handyman foster dressing. Foster period is intended to control activities, health and beauty care for the bride’s face the day of the ceremony later. 2. Events mandiin pengatin woman candidate who made the day before the marriage ceremony. Typically, before the spray begins, the bride was secluded for a month by a shaman or a handyman manten flowers. During the seclusion, the bride will dilulur and fasting for one day a week so that her marriage went smoothly. 3. Tangas event or events law. The event was identical to that tujuanya steam baths to clean traces or remnants of scrubs that are still lagging behind. In the procession, the bride sits on a bench beneath which there is water godokan spice or root of the tree Betawi. This was done for 30 minutes to sweat the bride who has a fragrant herb, and her face became more beautiful than usual. 4. Events malem ngerik or girlfriend. Do procession cut ngerik Cantung or fur of bats using the coin is flanked last cut. Next do the night boyfriend, where the bride redden the toenails and fingernails with henna.
After the series was held, go to the execution of the ceremony. At this time, the candidate that leads the master-in-law went home none the candidate-in-law by bringing his entourage called Rudat. In the procession of the ceremony, the groom and his family went to the residence of the bride by using a buggy or wagon ornamental. The arrival of the groom and his family was marked with fireworks as welcome on their arrival. Goods are carried at the ceremony include: 1. pineapple betel application 2. Betel pineapple garnish 3. dowry 4. miniature mosque that contains spending money 5. a pair of alligator bread 6. sie or Chinese ornate box for extra vegetables and salted egg 7. Chinese junks or boats that describes the ark fords household 8. complementary gifts 9. groom cake 10. kekudang means an item or food or whatever is very loved by none-law candidate from childhood to adulthood
In this procession the groom should not be carelessly betawi entered the residence of the bride. Thus, both parties have the whiz-whiz to compete, which in a traditional ceremony called the “Open Cross Door”. In the procession, there was a dialogue between the hero and champion women’s men, then marked the game as well as martial arts Zike song or chant sung the verses of the Quran. All of that is a condition in which the groom finally allowed inside to meet the parents of the bride.
At the ceremony, the bride wore baju kurung Betawi with lotus songket gloves and scarves. The head of the bride are decorated bun mustard flowers shake as many foreigners as well as 5 pieces, as well as a pair of birds Hong decoration. Then on the bride’s forehead is marked red in the form of a crescent moon that signifies that he was still a virgin when married.
Meanwhile, the groom wore a suit Rebet, fabric glove plaque, shirt, jacket and cap, plus a shirt Arab robes worn at the reception begins. Robe, shirt, and scarf that extends from left to right and the cap model haraan Alpie be a sign that households are always in harmony and peace.
After the ceremony and the ceremony Seserahan, the bridegroom opened the veil that covers the face of the bride to make sure whether the bride is the desire of her heart or her choice. Then the bride kissed the groom’s hand. Furthermore, both are allowed to sit side by side in the aisle (puade). At this moment begins a series of events with event dkenal greatness. The ceremony was marked by the Jakarta flower dance to entertain the bride and groom, followed by the reading of prayers which contain exhortations to both families and the families of both parties being happy.
5. Acare Negor
The day after the ceremony, Mr. bride allowed nginep None bride home. Although nginep, Mr. bride is not allowed to gather as like husband and wife. None bride should be able to memperthankan holiness as long as possible. Even to serve the talk was, None bride should keep the prestige and sell expensive. Even so, his duty as a wife should run well as serving her husband to eat, drink, and prepare toiletries.
To deal with the attitude none the bride, groom host use strategy is to reveal the beautiful words and also give money tegor. Tegor money is given directly but not tucked under or placed under the tablecloth or coasters.
6. Home tige Ari
This event took place after the host young Raje stay a few days at home none bride. Among them have been established harmonious communication. As a sign of joy from Mr. Raje Mude parents that their children get a girl who maintained his holiness, then the host family will send Raje Mude-making materials to the families of the bride lakse none-law.
Settled after Marriage Customary
In society and the Betawi culture, customs does not decide in an environment where the newlyweds had to settle down. The newlyweds were given the freedom to choose where they would settle. Although the community and the Betawi culture prevailing pattern of settling the ambilokal or utrolokal, but there is a tendency on the pattern of settling yamg matrilokal or unorilokal today.

Traditional Javanese wedding ceremonies

95The wonderful and mystical sound of Javanese music gamelan instruments accompanies a traditional sacred Panggih or Temu (means meeting) between a beautifully make up bride with her handsome bridegroom in front of a house decorated with “Tarub” plant decoration. The bride with traditionally make up with special gelungan (hairdo), wearing shining brilliant and golden jewelries and special dress for this occasion.
The bridegroom also wears special dress for this ceremony. The couple have to appear in their best, the are treated and honored by those who present in this wedding party as King and Queen of the day. As a traditional rule, the happy party takes place in the house of the bride’s parents. The bride’s parent are the ones who organize the marriage ceremony. The gate of the house must be decorated with Tarub consist of different Tuwuhan (plants and leaves). Which has symbolic meanings.

2 Banana Trees with stem of ripe bananas meaning:

  • The husband could be a good leader of the family in the society.
  • As banana trees which could grow well easily everywhere, the pair could also live well and happy everywhere, in good terms within the environment they live.

A pair of Tebu Wulung / Reddish sugar cane meaning : They build the family whole heartedly. With determination and wise mind they should never surrender the family life.
A cengkir Gading (young yellow coconuts) meaning: The couple loves each other decisively and should always take care of each other.
Different fresh leaves such as of beringin (banyan) mojo-koro, alang-alang, dadap srep, meaning: the couple should grow strongly to protect the family, always be in safety.
On top of this, on the gate must be hung bekletepe, ornaments made from plaited coconut leaves to drive out evil spirits and as a sign that a wedding ceremony takes place in this house.
Before the installation of Tarub and Bekletepe, a special Sajen offerings must be made. It consist among other of: Bananas, coconuts, rice cones, different kind of fruits. Dishes, cookies, different kind of drinks, flowers, jamu (herbal medicine), lantern, buffalo meat, tempe (a kind of tofu) coconut sugar etc. The sajen (offering) has symbolic meaning to get blessings from the ancestors and as a means of protection against evil spirits. The sajen should be placed in several places where the process of ceremonies take place such in the bathroom, kitchen, gate, under the Tarub decoration, in the street nearby the house etc.

A complete Javanese wedding ceremony has several complicated traditional rituals. In that event, the role of a Pemaes, a traditional make up woman who should lead the complete set of the whole ceremonies is very important. She would take care of the make up and dressings of the bride and bridegroom, different kind of offerings, different kind of ceremonies during the event etc.
(Go to Pemaes page)

A well qualified-expert-Pemaes usually she could lend complete wedding dress, ornaments and equipment necessary for a wedding party. A wedding party should be prepared carefully as it contains a lot of things to do. Usually a small wedding committee consist of close relatives and friends is setup. It depend also to the size of the ceremony, but whatever is the party, a special pattern of wedding procedures must be followed.

The Panggih or Temu manten ceremony (meeting of bride and bridegroom)
At a time set for this occasion, the bridegroom accompanied by his close relatives (but not his parents who are not allowed to present during the ritual traditional ceremony) arrive in the house of the bride’s parents and stop in the gate of the house. The bride accompanied by two elderly women on the right and left side walk her out of the bridal room. Her parents and close relatives walk behind her. Preceding the bride are two young girls. PATAH, each bringing a fan. Two elderly women or two young boys bringing two Kembar Mayang, a bouquet ornament, about one meter of height. A women from the bridegroom family walks forward and gives a Sangggan, (a gift in the form of banana fruits and flowers put in a winnowing tray covered with banana leaves) to the mother of the bride, as a sign of appreciation to the hostess of the ceremony.

Kembar Mayang is a kind of bouqet made of different kind of leaves mainly coconut leaves and others stuck into a banana trunk. According to wayang kulit (shadow puppet) story, kembar mayang ornament was the wish of King KRESNA during the marriage between Princess Sembadra and HARJUNA of PANDAWA family. It is indeed a very beautiful decoration with a broad symbolic meaning.

  • It has a mountain like shape
    A mountain is high and big, symbolizing a man should have a lot of knowledge, experience and patience.
  • Keris like ornaments
    Depicting the couple’s carefulness in life, clever and wise.
  • Whips like ornaments
    Means the couple should not be easily desperate, must be always optimistic with strong desire to build a good life.
  • Umbrellas like ornaments
    Means they must be the protector of the family and society.
  • Grasshoppers like ornaments
    They should be energitic, quick in thinking and taking decisions to safe the family.
  • Birds like ornaments
    They should have a high life motivation.
  • Beringin leaves
    The couple should always protect strongly the family and other human beings.
  • Kruton Leaves
    Meant to protect from evil spirits.
  • Dadap srep Leaves
    The leaves could be used as a cold compress to lower fever, symbolizing the couple should always have a clear mind and calmness to solve any problems. (calm down the feeling and cool down the head)
  • Dlingo Bengle
    These herbs could cure infection and other desease, they use to protect from evil spirits.
  • PATRA Manggala flowers
    Used to beautify the bouquet and against evil deeds.

During the Panggih ceremony, the Kembar Mayang are brought outside the house and thrown out in a crossroad nearby the house, depicting all evil spirits should not disturb the ceremony in the house and its surrounding area. A pair of Kembar Mayang put in the right and left side of the couple’s chair during reception as a decoration. Kembar Mayang used only if the couple were unmarried before. The bride then is meeting the bridegroom. The couple approaching each other, when they are about three meters facing each other, they stop to start with Ritual of BALANGAN SURUH, throwing to each other seven small bundles of betel leaves with lime inside tied with white yarn. They do it eagerly and happily and also everyone is smiling happily. According to ancient belief, betel leaves have power to chase away bad spirits. By throwing betel leaves to others, it should be proved that the couple is really the genuine persons not a ghost or other person who pretends to be the bride or the bridegroom.

The Ritual of WIJI DADI
The bridegroom crash a chicken egg with his right foot and then washed by the bride using water mixed with several kinds of flowers. It depicts that the bridegroom is ready to become a responsible father and the bride should faithfully serve her husband.

With the help of the Pemaes, the couple walk arm in arm or more precisely holding each other with their little finger to the site of Kacar Kucur or Tampa Kaya ritual in a chair in front of the house’s KROBONGAN. It depicts that the husband should give all his income to his wife. The bridegroom gives to the bride some soybeans, peanuts, paddy rice, corns, yellow rice, Dlingo bengle herbs, flowers and coins of different values, the quantity of coins must be even. The bride carefully receives these gifts in a small white cloth, above an old mat which is put on her lap. She should be a good careful housewife.

They are eating together, feeding each other. The Pemaes as a leader of the ceremony gives a plate and a napkin to the bride and yellow rice, side dishes as fried eggs, soybean, tempe, sliced of fried meat (abon) and chicken’s liver. The bridegroom makes three small balls of rice and dishes with his right hand. The bride shall eat first and then the bridegroom, after that they drink sweet tea. The ritual depicts the couple should use and enjoy their belongings together. Krobongan or Petanen is a special room located in the centre of Dalem Javanese joglo house, in front of the room stand two wooden statues called Loro Blonyo. This is symbolzing prosperity (kindly click:symbolic meaning of Joglosemar for detail). Nowadays, as many houses have no krobongan room, the place where these rituals conducted is decorated with krobongan like ornaments. The same if this party is held in a hotel or public building,

The bride’s parents pick up the parents of the bridegroom in front of the house. They walk together to the place of ceremony. The mothers walk infront, the fathers accompanied from behind. The parents of the bridegroom should be seated in the left side of the couple. The parents of the bride sit in right side of the couple.

The Ritual of SUNGKEMAN
The couple should kneel and asks a blessing from their parents. First to the parents of the bride, then to the parents of the bridegroom. During the SUNGKEMAN, the Pemaes takes out the KERIS from the bridegroom. After the Sungkeman, the bridegroom wears again his KERIS. It should be noted that the couple’s parents are wearing the same design of Batik Truntum meaning the couple should always have enough fortune for a living and they are wearing also SINDUR as waist sash. The red drawing in the Sindur with its curved edges would like to say that life is like a river winds thru the mountains. The parents are escorting the newlywed to walk in the real life to build a strong family.

Other Rituals
The above rituals are Yogyakarta’s pattern. In Surakarta and other regions of Java, there are additional rituals.

After the ritual of Wiji Dadi, the father of the bride leads the couple to walk to the wedding chair in front of the Krobongan, the mother of the bride covers the couple’s shoulders with SINDUR. Symbolizing the father shows the way of happiness. While the mother gives a moral support.

Both, the bride and the bridegroom sit on the father’s lap and he would say that they have equal weight, that means that he loves them both equally.

The father seats the couple in the wedding chair. It depicts that He has approved the marriage and gives his blessing.TUKAR KALPIKA
Exchange of wedding rings as a sign of love. Then followed by the rituals of Kacar Kucur and others.

The Reception
After the wedding rituals are completed, then follows the reception. The newly-wed flanked by their parents should receive blessing and greeting from the guests by shaking hands. In the meantime, one or two Javanese classical dance could be performed. The favorit show is the classical dance of GATOTKACA-PERGIWO a fragment from wayang story or more modern classical style dance KARONSIH, both are love dance. While all the guests are enjoying the party by tasting lunch or diner offered, the sound of gamelan music echoes beautifully thru the reception hall. The wedding ceremony ends safely and satisfactorily and everyone is happy.

Today, for practical reason, many wedding receptions are held in the banquet halls of hotels on convention halls, beautiful decorated for the specialist event. The traditional ritual ceremonies attended only by families, close relatives & friends of the bride and groom. The reception is a party, where lunch or dinner is served after the invitees have congratulated the newly wed couples, flanked by they parents.

Before congratulation, where many guests are already in the party hall, there is a bridal procession entering the hall. Accompanied by live gamelan music, a master of ceremony announces that the bride and the groom are entering the hall. The procession is led by cucuk lampah – a man in Javanese costume walks rhythmically toward the chairs where the newly wed couples are going to be seated in front of the “Krobongan – Style” decoration . Behind him are two Patah – little girls specially dressed, who are going to sit in the right and left side of the newly wed couple. Followed by some dancers in their marvelous costumes, they are going to entertain everybody attending the party with their traditional dancers.

Then, the newly wed couple, walk hand-in-hand in their most elegant appearance as the queen and the king of the day. They are flanked by two elderly ladies, holding their hands. Followed by their mothers and then their fathers. In the last row are the sisters and sisters-in-law and the brothers and brothers-in-low of the bride and the groom.

With tender magical gamelan music accompaniment, the MC in a soft and magnetic voice makes some comments of the procession with poetic refined Javanese words. The bride and the groom are seated on the disignated chairs, flanked by the Patah and the parents of both side. The reception begins amidst a happy atmosphere. In a bridal procession in the Royal Palace/Karaton of Yogyakarta and Surakarta, there is an additional attraction. The joyful and jokingly appearance by a group called “edan-edanan” (edan means crazy), consist of same dwarfs with glorying dresses and make-up, dancing, wildly, laughing moisely accompanied by a load and quick rhythm of gamelan. This attraction symbolizes…….

A sincere and mutual love between a woman and a man should end in marriage. In places like Java, the marriage occurred due to the decision by a loving couple. This is a matter of principle since the ancient time. It could hoppened due to the wish of their parents. A Javanese proverb says: “‘Tresno jalaran saka kulino” means “love grows when you are get used to each other”. Up to now, a Javanese always stays close to the family. Family solidarity is of prime important. The loving couple should inform their parents accordingly and several steps should be taken to prepare the wedding.

The Proposal
The parents of the man (would be bridegroom) should send an envoy or envoys to the parents of the woman (would be bride), proposing that their son is willing to marry their daughter. Nowadays, for practical reason, the parents of both sides could talk directly. The parents of the couple should approved the planned marriage. They should fix convenient and good days of wedding procedures which must be followed such as Peningsetan (traditional engagement), Siraman (holy bathing), Midodaremi (ceremony in the eve of the wedding day), the Panggih and other traditional rituals.
Usually, the parents of the would be bride have a greater say as they are the ones who organize the ceremony. It should be decided also what kind of marriage pattern is chosen, among other Paes Ageng (great make up) or Kesatrian (knight’s make up which is simpler). Every marriage pattern differs in make up and dresses for the bride and bridegroom.
It should be decided also what kind of dresses the parents should wear, what kind of Batik pattern and shirt/coat design, which color etc.

The Pemaes and the wedding committee
A complete traditional Javanese wedding ceremony is involving several kind of activities. One of the most important things is the ritual. In that case, service of a Pemaes is of top priority. There are a lot of Pemaes, but favorite Pemaes, they have also a tight schedule. It must be made sure the engagement of a Pemaes long time before the wedding. She should be entrusted to make up the bride and bridegroom and dress them properly, she should take care the ritual offerings and lead the ritual ceremonies.
A small committee consisting of close relatives and friends from both families is set up. The size depends to the size of the party, how many guests should be invited,300, 500, 1000 or more guests. In fact a wedding ceremony is a big show. Really the committee should work hard on voluntarily basis. The most important thing here is the execution of IJAB, the religious and civil registration, which should legalize the wed couple as legitimate husband and wife before the law. The committee should appoint people in charge of different jobs such as: protocol, food and beverage, art performance of the gamelan music group and the dance, setting up the reception hall complete with decoration, the appointment of master of ceremony, the appointment of some elder distinguish women to do the siraman (holy bathing), the appointment of who should be witnesses for IJAB, the appointment of who should deliver the welcome speech during reception, the appointment of who should be responsible for transportation, communication and security matters etc. This is the manifestation of the spirit of Gotong Royong/ Mutual Cooperation.

Peningsetan derives from the word singset means to tie up. It is commitment that a marriage should be implemented, the families of both sides have agreed. The parents should become “in-laws”. On the peningsetan occasion, the family of the would be bridegroom visit the parents and the family of the would be bride. They are bringing some gifts as follow:

  1. A set of Suruh Ayu (Suruh: betel leaf, Ayu: beautiful), betel leaves with the necessary supplement, wishing for a safety.
  2. Several Batik cloths with different patterns, wishing happiness and the best things in life such as the patterns of sidoluhur, sidomukti etc. (please click article of Batik)
  3. Materials for KEBAYA (women shirts)
  4. White waist sash for women as a sign of a strong willingness.
  5. Some fruits, wishing a good health.
  6. Rice, sugar, salt, cooking oil etc symbolizing the basic foodstuffs need in life.
  7. A set of ring for the couple.
  8. Some money, a contribution for the wedding ceremony.

Tarub Decoration
Usually one day before the wedding party, the gate of the bride’s parents should be decorated with Tarub as has been described above.

SIRAMAN Ceremony
Siraman means to take a bath. The Siraman in the wedding ritual is meant to clean the couple to become clean, their bodies as well as their souls. The Siraman ceremony usually should be organized one day prior to the IJAB and Panggih rituals, in the afternoon. Siraman of the would be bride should be conducted in her parents’ residence as for the would be bridegroom in his parents house.
For this ritual some preparations have to be made, such as:

  1. The place of the Siraman, in the family bathroom or in a place specially designed for the purpose. Nowadays the second alternative is more common.
  2. The lists of persons who should bath the couple. Instead of the parents, some elderly distinguished women should be invited among other their grand mothers. They are selected due to their good moral behavior. The numbers are limited usually to seven. Seven in Javanese is PITU, so they should give PITULUNGAN means help.
  3. Items which must be prepared.
    • A big bowl for water, usually made of copper or bronze.
    • Water from a well or spring
    • Setaman flowers, consist of rose, yasmin, magnolia, cananga, to be put in the water.
    • Wet powder-five colours, should function like a soap.
    • Traditional shampoo and conditioner such as ash of rice straw, coconut milk and tamarind juice.
    • 2 coconuts, tied up together
    • a small chair, covered with:
      Old mat
      White cloth
      Several kind of plant leaves
      Dlingo Bengle herbs
      Bango tulak cloths (4 patterns) against evil deed.
      Lurik woven pabrics with design YUYU SEKANDANG and PULA WATU.
    • White cotton cloth to be wear during siraman
    • Batik cloth of Grompol and NAGASARI design
    • Towel
    • Kendi – earthenware flask with a neck and spout.
    • Gayung – a water dipper.
    • Requesting protection from God, the Creator
    • Remembering the ancestors, so their souls live in peace in eternal world and hopefully got a blessing from them.
    • Avoiding evil deeds from spirit and human being.
    • The ritual should be safe and successful.Sajen / offering for SIRAMAN
      Traditionally sajen/offering in Javanese ritual is considered very important. It has a deep symbolic meaning, in short:
  4. Siraman’s sajen among other consist of:
    • Tumpeng ROBYONG; a decorated Robyong rice cone, with the wish to be in safety.
    • Tumpeng GUNDUL; rice cone with no decoration.
    • Cold food
    • Bananas and other fruits
    • A chicken egg
    • A Peeled coconut
    • Coconut sugar
    • A latern
    • Telon flowers (cananga, yasmin, magnolia)
    • Seven kinds of porridge
    • Sweet cookies
    • Cookies made of glutinous rice
    • A cock

The family of the would be bride should send envoys to the family of the would be bridegroom, a small bowl of holy water, consists of water and flowers. This holy water, called banyu suci PERWITOSARI (banyu: water, suci: holy, perwitosari: essence of life) should be pourred in the water in the bridgroom’s house.

The execution of SIRAMAN

  1. The would be bride/bridegroom, with hair hung loosely picked up from her/his room by the parents. She/he is escorted to the place of siraman. Some people bring a tray of batik cloths, towels etc walk behind them. These things should be used after the siraman.
  2. He/she should be seated on the chair.
  3. A prayer is offered
  4. The first person to bath her/him is the father and then the mother, countinued by others in the list.
  5. The last person to bath her/him is the Pemaes or a special elder person assigned. She should use the traditional shampo, powder etc to clean her/him. He/she should sit, with both hands in front of the chest in praying position. The Pemaes pours water from Kendi to their hands and they use it to rinse the mouth three times. The Pemaes pours to their head, face, ears, neck, hands and feet three times each.
  6. When the Kendi is empty, the Pemaes or person assigned should break the kendi on the floor saying: Wis Pecah Pamore’ – meaning that he/she is handsome (beautiful, now is a grown-up) (ready to get married).
  7. He/she should wear the batik cloth of Grompol design and cover the body with Nagasari batik cloth.
  8. He/she should be escorted back to the wedding room.

NGERIK Ceremony
After the Siraman. The bride sits in the wedding room. The Pemaes should dry her hair by using towel and smoke of perfumed powder (RATUS) should be passed her hair. When the hair is drying, it is combed backside and strongly tied up in gelung hairdo style. The Pemaes cleans her face and neck and start to make up. Ngerik means to save unnessarary hairs on her face by using a Razor.

Sajen/ offering for NGERIK
The sajen for Ngerik is the same with the sajen for Siraman. For pratical reason all sajen for siraman brought to the wedding room and function as the offering for NGERIK RITUAL.

The execution of NGERIK
The Pemaes should carefully and skilfully doing her make up of the bride. The face should be make up in accordance with the marriage pattern. At the end, the bride should be dressed with Kebaya (woman shirt) and Batik cloth with design of SIDOMUKTI or SIDOASIH symbolizing, she would have a prosperous life and adored by other people.

This ceremony takes place in the eve of IJAB and Panggih ceremonies. Midodaremi is derived from the word Widodari means goddess. The would be bride this evening is becoming very beautiful like a goddess, she should be visited by some goddesses from heaven according to ancient belief. She has to stay in the room the whole evening from 6.00 p.m. to midnight accompanied by some elder women giving her useful advice. The family of the would be bridegroom and her very close friends should also visit her for a while, all of them are women.
The bride’s parents should feed her for the last time. As from tomorrow, she is in her husband’s responsibility.

Sajen/offering for MIDODARENI

  1. Rice cooked with coconut milk
  2. Well cooked cock (INGKUNG)
  3. Vegetable sauces
  4. Telon flowers
  5. Tea and coffee without sugar
  6. Drink from young coconut meat with coconut sugar
  7. Latern which is lighted
  8. Bananas of Raja (king) variety
  9. Flowers in water bowl
  10. A baked glutinous rice, bread
  11. Cigar and pipe made of papaya leave

Items put in the wedding room

  1. One set of Kembar Mayang
  2. 2 earthenware vases filled with spices, medical herbs, rice, peanuts etc covered with Bango Tulak cloths.
  3. 2 Kendis filled with holy water covered with dadap srep leave.
  4. UKUB- a tray with several kinds of perfumed leaves and flowers put under the bed.
  5. Suruh Ayu- betel leaves with its supplement.
  6. Areca nut.
  7. Seven kinds of cloth with letrek design.

The offering could be taken out of the room at midnight. The family and guests could eat it.

Ceremonies outside the wedding room
Outside the room, there are the parents and the family or close friends of the would be bride meeting with the family of the would be bridegroom, eating and speaking to each other. Nowadays for practical reason, during the midodareni, other rituals could be conducted at the same time, such as:

Peningsetan or SRAH-SRAHAN
The family of the would be bridegroom gives some items to the parents of the would be bride (see Peningsetan Ritual). In this occasion both sides of families should make acquintance to each other in a more relax atmosphere. Then the family of the would be bridegroom (only women) visit the would be bride in the attractively decorated wedding room.

In fact the would be bridegroom come together with his family, but he is not entitled to enter the house. While his family is inside the house, he sits in the veranda of the house accompanied by some friends or relatives. During that time he is only given a glass of water, and he is not allowed to smoke. He may eat only after midnight. It is a lesson that he must be able to resist hunger and temptation. Before his family left the house, an envoy of his parents tells the host and the hostess that he hands over the would be bridegroom to the responsibility of the host and the hostess, the envoy further says that the would be bridegroom is not going back home. After the visitors left the house, the would be bridegroom is allowed to enter the house but not the wedding room. The parents of the would be bride should arrange his lodging. This called Nyantri. Nyantri is done on purpose for safety and practical reason, considering that tomorrow he should be dressed and prepared for Ijab and other wedding ceremonies.

IJAB Ceremony As it has been described above, Ijab ceremony is the most important requirement to legalize a marriage. The implementation of Ijab is in accordance with the religion of the couple. Nowadays, the state recognizes five existing religions: ISLAM, CHRISTIAN and CATHOLIC, HINDU, BUDHA. Whatever religion they confess, they are wearing traditional dresses. In the place where the IJAB is conducted, a sanggan offering put there. After the IJAB, traditional ceremonies of panggih etc and a reception should follow to complete the whole wedding ceremonies.

The Art of Javanese Traditional Wedding
In Java people oftenly says that birth, marriage and death are the wish of God. It is easily understood that wedding rituals should be implemented accordingly. It grows to be an exhibition of traditional art and culture, an integral part of the Nation’s Identity. Where the noble symbols of life exposed with pride and dignity.
This great tradition, inherited from ancient time, strongly preserved by the people. The Javanese selectively embraces modernazition but the root of tradition remains. The existance of Palaces/Karatons in Yogyakarta and Surakarta, as centers of art and culture plays a positive role. The most significant is the people’s sincere care to conserve its own culture.
The hard work and determination to maintain traditional culture by the Karatons, related experts and all parties concern have flourished the culture in the pleasant direction. Some consistent efforts have to be made to improve the favourable trend.