Indonesian traditional weddings are filled with cultural values inherited by both the bride and groom. Based on ancestral traditions, Indonesian wedding rituals are not only done on the big day. In fact, many cultures have ceremonies done on the eve before the wedding day.
We've collected several interesting rituals from various ethnicities in Indonesia that will leave you amazed. Take a look at the traditions below and share other cultural wedding processions that you know in the comments section!
1. Javanese – Midodareni
On the midodareni night, the groom and his family visit the bride's family to ask for her hand in marriage. That evening, the bride and groom are not allowed to see each other. The groom then presents wedding gifts called seserahan to the bride's family. Meanwhile, the bride has to stay in her room and can only be visited by women. After the procession ends, the bride's family gives wedding gifts for the groom, usually including his traditional attire to be worn for the panggih ceremony on the following day.
2. Betawi – Malam Pacar
The pacar night is done on the eve before the wedding day. In this Betawi wedding procession, the bride paints her fingernails with pacar or henna coloring. This ritual is done to enhance the bride's beauty on the next day. Prior to this procession, the potong centung and ngerik bulu kalong rituals are usually done by removing some of the bride's hair using coins and a scissor. The malam pacar tradition is usually done after the lamaran, pingitan, and siraman processions.
Photography: Le Motion
3. Sundanese – Ngeuyeuk Seureuh
Held at the bride's home, ngeuyeuk seureuh is done on the night before the wedding ceremony. In this procession, the bride and groom ask for blessings from their parents, witnessed by relatives. The parents then present marriage advice through several objects especially prepared for the procession. The entire ceremony is led by a respected elderly woman called nini pangeuyeuk who is well versed in traditional Sundanese wedding rituals.
4. Banjar – Badudus or Bapapai
Badudus or bapapai is a bathing ritual meant to cleanse the couple's body and soul. This Banjar tradition is done at the bride's residence, one night before the wedding day. Bapapai itself means to sprinkle water on the bride and groom using mayang pinang. This ritual is performed by an odd number of elderly women in the family.
5. Minang – Malam Bainai
Malam bainai is the last night for the bride to enjoy her freedom as a single woman. The bride spends the night with her close friends and family. Before the procession begins, a ritual called mandi-mandian is performed. The word bainai itself is derived from inai or henna. The inai plant turns orange when crushed, and is then placed on the bride's fingernails. Every colored nail has different meaning. For example, the wedding ring finger symbolizes hope that the couple will always be faithful and love one another.
6. Minahasa – Malam Gagaren
Malam gagaren or malam muda-mudi is a bathing ceremony done under a natural spring. This tradition is no longer held in big cities, and is usually replaced with mandi lumelek and bacoho. Lumelek is a bathing ritual done by stepping on stones mixed with nine types of fragrant white flowers. Meanwhile, bacoho is just like a regular bath, meant to cleanse oneself from head to toe. Traditionally, coconut is used as shampoo to make the bride's hair look shiny.
Photography: Bernardo Pictura
7. Bugis – Mappacci
The mappacci ritual symbolizes purity. During the ceremony, the bride and groom sit next to each other on the wedding stage. In front of them lies a pillow as a sign of respect. There are also seven pieces of silk to represent self-esteem, banana leaves to symbolize continuous life, candles as illumination, and seven jackfruit leaves as symbols of hope. Pacci red coloring is then mixed in a metal container that signifies holiness or purity. One by one, guests wipe pacci to the couple's hands and nails, accompanied by prayer. The ones who apply pacci are usually relatives known for their happy and long-lasting marriages.