45 Unique Wedding Traditions and Rituals from Around Indonesia
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Indonesia is a country with rich culture, including in terms of weddings cultural traditions. Since we're celebrating this nation's day of birth, it's only due that we learn more about the wedding traditions of many ethnicities and tribes in Indonesia. Here are 45 unique wedding traditions from many corners of Indonesia!
1. Minang: Bride's proposal
Different to most proposals, in Minangnese culture the women propose to the men! The bride-to-be will visit the family house of the groom, then the two families will exchange gifts as a symbol of their union.
This tribe that lives in the highlands of Southern Sumatra has a unique wedding tradition where the groom will have to face obstacles before meeting the bride. He will be blocked using a long scarf on his way to the bride. Before he can come face-to-face with the bride, he must also fulfil some requirements that the bride's guide will give him.
In Betawinese culture, the groom will come to the bride's house bringing a group of people. This group will try to enter the bride's house, but before they can get in, they must read verses of
pantun or traditional poems that the bride's family will reply to.
Foto: Fotologue Photo
Osing couples from Banyuwangi region who haven't got blessings from their families will proceed to do
Kawin Colong. That means the groom will hide the bride in his house for 24 hours, but he will also send a trusted man that's known as a Colok to negotiate with the bride's family until the marriage is approved.
The grooms of Sasak must kidnap their wives-to-be before marriage. Different to
Kawin Colong, this act of kidnaping has been acknowledged by the bride's family. Even so, the kidnaping must not be known by anyone else, if the groom gets caught or causes commotion he should pay a fine!
6. Gunung Kidul:
Since 2007, the grooms-to-be in Bohol, Gunung Kidul are mandated to plant at least 5 teaks. This rule is meant to create a greener environment in the village. Now, this is an eco-friendly wedding indeed!
7. Tidung: Not bathroom allowed
The tribe, Tidung holds a very unusual rule for marriage. The couple must not be seen using the bathroom for 72 hours or 3 days! This may seem difficult for other societies, but for this tribe that occupies North-Borneo, this isn't a big price to pay for a harmonious marriage.
8. Central Java:
In Central Javanese wedding procession, the parents of the bride will sell
dawet that will be bought with pieces of clay roof. This unique tradition is seen as a way for the parents to give example of a good marriage where the husband and wife help each other out.
Foto: All Seasons Photo
Couples from the western region of Java, particularly Cirebon, will go through a
pugpugan procession after their wedding ceremony. Pugpugan itself is a folded old grass or palm leaves, which the bride's parents will strew acros the couple's heads. It represents the parents' wishes for loyalty and long-lasting marriage.
10. Cilacap, Banyumas and Purwokerto:
In these three places, there is a tradition of giving wisdom to the couple through comedic performance. This will be done by dancers who will dance carrying household items and conveying advices and prayers in a funny and humorous way.
In Bataknese culture, there is a process of discussing the dowry that is known as
Sinamot. The dowry is usually decided based on the bride's level of education, career, or family social status. The higher the level, the higher the price. But it's not necessarily seen as a materialistic thing, the family hopes after paying such high dowry, the couple would think twice or more before getting a divorce later in their marriage.
Aceh, too, has a unique way of deciding dowries. This is by having their own measurement standard which is
Mayam. Dowries in Acehnese culture usually comes in the form of gold which will be measured in Mayam. 1 Mayam is equal to 3.37 grams of gold.
In this tradition that was first carried out by the Sultanate of Yogyakarta, the groom must stay somewhere within the area of the bride's family's house before the wedding. Usually, he would stay in the bride's relative's house or neighbour's house, but he cannot see his wife until the wedding day.
Foto: Portlove Creative Studio
The Kaili people, who commonly occupies Central Sulawesi, do not only oblige the grooms to give money as dowry but also many women essentials as a form of respect from the groom to the bride.
Instead of walking down the aisle, the brides and grooms of Banjarmasin are carried on the shoulders of dancers. There will also be dances and music performed during this procession.
In Lampung's Melinting wedding culture, there is a process where the two families meet and apologize to each other of the mistakes they may have made that is called
Sabaian. After the process, the groom will be given the title, Adok and the bride, Inai.
17. Madura: Nyedek Temo
The couples of Madura have a special way of deciding the date of their wedding. The two families meet in an event called
Nyedek Temo. Then, the bride and groom-to-be will present symbolic things that determines the date of the wedding. For instance, pisang susu and betel symbolize a wedding that will be held soon.
Apparently Torajan people have their own version of a prenuptial agreement. The term is called
Urrampan Kapa' which is an event where both side of the couple's family sit together to discuss their wedding term and punishment if the bride or groom do something in the future that violates their marriage commitment.
19. Bali: selling-buying tradition
In Balinese weddings, the female bride will bring a basket or
bakul which carries the things the bride will sell to the groom. This tradition symbolizes a marriage where the couple completes one another.
Foto: Kamala Studio
The Moluccan Ambon people also have their own pre-wedding tradition that is known as
Maso Minta or Masuk Minta. The groom-to-be will announce his intention to marry, so the families will meet after sending an invitation letter called Surat Bertamu. In this meeting, the two families are represented by spokesmen to discuss details of the wedding.
The people of Aru are known with a tradition to celebrate traditional ceremonies with songs. In a wedding ceremony, the song that they will sing is called
Lagu Rora. The lyrics of this song express gratitude to God and the ancestors for their success.
Berusik sirih bergurau pinang
This tradition is a part of the early phase of the marriage. After deciding to marry, the groom will visit the bride's house to express his love in the soft and beautiful language of
pantun or seloko.
23. Jambi: Bebalai
The people of Rimba don't have to think of their wedding on their own. After the proposal that is known as
beindok semang, the Rimba people will build together a building or hall that will become the venue of the wedding.
Horja Haroan Boru
The end of a Mandailing wedding is believed to symbolize the departure of the couple from their parents. Therefore, before the wedding ends, the bride that is also calles the
boru na ni oli will dance Tor-tor as a gift.
Foto: Antijitters Photo
25. Minahasa: White Flower Ceremony
As a symbol of love and respect, the groom will present a bouquet of white flowers for the bride. However, the flowers must be in 9 stalks, with 9 bloomed flowers and 9 budding ones. The number 9 is believed to bring good luck.
The blessing of a Biak wedding that's done by the
Kepala Adat or chiefs is known as Wafer. This ceremony commences with the groom and bride smoking a cigar or a cigarette. After that, they will feed each other with sweet potatoes or taros. Only after that, the marriage is declared official!
In Javanese weddings, there is a tradition named
Pingitan where the bride-to-be cannot leave the house approaching the wedding date. This is not just to prevent the bride and groom to meet, but it is also a chance for the bride-to-be to pamper herself before the wedding. Many years ago, this process could last from 1 to 2 months!
Foto: Davy Linggar Photography
For the people of Sumbawa, the wedding day is the day when the couple becomes a king and queen. In their ceremony, there is a procession known as
Barupa where the guests give the couple coins and read them poems and words of wisdoms.
The people of Dani hold a communal wedding,
Maweh, one every 4 or 6 years. The brides are gathered, and the brides-to-be are in close watch of the community while they are also prepared for the wedding.
In East Nusa Tenggara, the bride will not be in the wedding until the groom picks her up. The bride will be hidden in a room with her traditional makeup artist. Before the wife can leave, the groom must read
pantun and fulfilled the requirements given by the makeup artist.
31. Minang: Malam Bainai
Indonesia has its own bachelorette party in the Minangnese culture. Minangnese brides celebrate their last night of being a single lady with their families and close friends in a celebration known as
MalamBainai. In this event, the bride will get a traditional manicure from a mashed inai plant that will leave a reddish shade on her nails.
Foto: Get Her Ring
32. Dayak Iban:
The wedding of Dayak Iban couples is called
Melah Pinang which is usually done from houses to houses. If the houses are on the side of the river, the groom will come to her by boat and accompanied by dancers and music players.
Pigs have special meaning in Nias civilization, that's why before his wedding, a groom must first prepare several pigs. In this procession called
Fanu'a Bawi, the bride-to-be will select only pigs that weigh more than 100 kilos, has no flaws, with long tails and even fur color.
Another unique thing from Biak culture is Ararem, which is a tradition where the groom's family parades around carrying ethnic plates, jars and various of other things, including the red-and-white Indonesian flag!
In a traditional Sundanese wedding procession, the groom will hold 7 wooden sticks which the bride will ignite with fire. The groom will dip the burning sticks into a water jug to put out the flame, then proceed to break them into halves and throw them away. This ritual symbolizes a fiery wrath that can be extinguished by their spouse's gentle and soothing persona.
Foto: Le Motion
Ngurukken Majeu (Ngekuruk)
In Lampung, the bride will get on a chariot called
rato atau be carried on a palanquin to the groom's house. Once they're there, the groom will carry a spear and walk in front of the bride.
In culture rich Papua, many tribes hold a similar tradition of
Bakar Batu or burning rocks. This is their way of showing gratitude of the many blessings they have gotten. Before they burn the rocks, they will arrange the bigger rocks at the bottom and smaller ones at the top, then cover them with wood.
In a Banjar wedding, there is a bathing procession known as
Badudus or Bapapai. In this process, the bride will be bathed by five or seven old women, preferably their relatives, using many kinds of flowers, citrus fruit, and coconut water. Not only for brides-to-be, expecting mothers are also having this ritual in their seventh month of pregnancy to repel bad luck and hope for a safe labor.
In Buginese custom, after the wedding ceremony and officially pronounced as husband and wife, the groom will be taken to the bride's room. Then the couple would touch or shake each other's hand as a symbol of their first interaction as married couple. This process called Mappasikarawa and is known for determining the marriage's happiness in the future.
Foto: Journal Portraits
40. Bajo: White cloth dowry
Many Indonesian traditions require expensive dowry, but in Bajo, the groom only has to present a white cloth. Of course, since the Bajo people are known for their connection with the sea, the groom will come on a boat to present this dowry.
As a sign that a bride is officially married, she will be given
inai. This is a mixture of the inai leaves and tamarind. This process is usually done at night, because it is said that if done at night, the inai will look redder!
42. Pontianak Malay:
Malays who live in Pontianak have a special self-pampering ritual for their brides, it is calles
Bebedakan. For 40 days prior to the wedding, the bride will use a special powder and cannot leave the house.
In Palembang, the groom-to-be will send a person he trusts to discuss the date of the engagement. This is done to show seriousness of the marriage. Of course, this must also be accompanied by gifts, wich are
tenong, songket fabricand some traditional food.
Foto: Fleur de Lis Photography
In Buton's tradition, the bride's family will give away money to single women. The money given is known as the
Bakena Kao. It is said that if the single women use their money to buy sweet things, they will get married soon!
pantunholds a special place in Indonesian culture. Just like in a Betawi or Minangese wedding, pantun becomes an important part of a wedding in Belitung as well. However, in Belitung's culture, the reading of the pantun must be done in 3 stages, where the last stage of obstacle is the bride's room.