WEDDINGS OF DIFFERENT ETHIC GROUPS IN INDONESIA: JAVANESE, CHINESE, SUNDANESE AND BATAK

JAVANESE WEDDING

According to rami-services.com: “Normally the celebration lasts two days. The first day is similar to a shower, as is commonly known in the western hemisphere, and the second day is the marriage ceremony and the wedding celebrations. The future husband doesńt normally attend the shower celebration which is reserved for the immediate family and very close friends. But there can be exceptions... Javanese people are very smooth and resilient. [Source: rami-services.com *^*]

“The wedding ceremony usually begins at 9 in the morning and if the ceremony is of the Muslim faith, the vows take place in the bridés parentś home. Otherwise, the marriage can be in a church or in a government office if you prefer a civil marriage. Afterwards, the music begins and the couple is invited to sing along with the musicians if live music is present. Cantik Javanese Dancer Guests can also sing and others are invited to sing along. So dońt be surprised by the wide selection of music since most professional musicians can play all styles such as Dangdut, Latin, pop, rock and roll and most top 40 tunes and supply song books. *^*

“Guests are oftentimes honored by the participation of a Bali or Dangdut dancer which is most appreciated by everyone. Gamelan music is a well preserved tradition in Java and Bali. The gamelan is a percussion instrument made of bronze and each one has a particular sound and doesńt follow the western rule of a fixed musical scale. Dangdut, on the other hand, is a more contemporary type of music. Modern instruments such as electric guitar, bass, mandolin, drum set and electric violin play along with traditional instrument such as the kendang, a drum which produces the dang and the dut on a 4/4 beat. Also a seruling tastefully comes in to fill in for the melody when the singer ends a musical phrase. Most of the time, Dangdut music is enhanced with eight beautiful dancers, women and men, smiling all the way through a song. Dangdut can take many forms such as rock-dangdut, pop-dangdut, reggae-dangdut, tango-dangdut, salsa-dangdut and frequently reminds the listener about Arabian, Latin and Indian influences. *^*

“Traditional food is served to the guests before they gradually leave while other people such as neighbors and co-workers come over to pay a small visit and enjoy the food and music.The Flower Bath ceremony is held at the bridés parents house. In this ceremony the parents and close relatives offer a flower shower to the bride as a symbol of purifying body and soul before the wedding that will take place the next day. Also held on the day prior to the wedding day, the Step Over Ceremony takes place if the bride has an elder sister who hasńt married yet. This ceremony is for appreciation to the elder sister so that the wedding can be held with her blessing. The younger sister will also give a gift to the older one. This ceremony is quite moving: a mixture of joy for the future bride and sadness for the elder sister. *^*

Javanese Wedding Ceremony

According to jagadkejawen.com: Ijab is the most important rite to legalize a marriage. Ijab is a wedding registration in accordance with Islamic religion. In Indonesia, a marriage is legalized according to the religion of the couple. After the Ijab , the ceremony is followed by a civil registration which makes the couple legally husband and wife. [Source: .jagadkejawen.com *-*]

“The Panggih or Temu Manten Ceremony is a traditional ceremony which takes place in the home of the bride’s parents. It is the meeting of the bride and groom and is conducted immediately after the Ijab and the civil registration. During this part of the ceremony, the groom is accompanied by his close relatives (but not his parents who are disallowed to be present) and stop at the front gate while the bride and her parents stand inside the front door. Two young girls called Patah, stand in front of the bride holding fans. Two boys or elderly women each hold a a one meter high floral bouquet called Kembar Mayang. A female family member of the groom steps forward and gives the mother of the bride a token of appreciation for her hospitality in the form of a gift of bananas and flowers in a tray covered with banana leaves called Sanggan . After the Panggih meeting between the bride and groom, the Kembar Mayang is strewn at the nearest intersection in order that no evil spirits can reach the house and disturb the matrimonials. *-*

“The bride meets the groom in the front veranda of the house . They are approaching each other. When they are about two meters facing each other, they stop and start with the rite of Balangan Suruh.That is, throwing to each other seven bundles of betel leaves with lime inside tied with white yarn. They do it eagerly, smiling, witnessed happily by everyone presents. According to ancient belief, betel leaves have natural energy to drive out evil spirits. Through this ritual of Balangan Suruh, the bride and the groom are the real persons, not ghosts nor fakes . *-*

“Following the previous rituals, the groom then crashes a chicken egg with his right foot, the bride washes his foot with water mixed with several kind of petals of flowers. It depicts, the groom is ready to become a responsible head of the family and the family will have good children. In Yogyakarta the bride and the groom stand face to face. The bride kneels to wash the right foot of the groom with water mixed with several kind of flowers’ petals. The Pemaes- The Beautician who leads the ceremony holds a chicken egg in her right hand. She touches the forehead of the groom and the bride using the tip of the egg. Then, she breaks the egg above the petals of flowers on the floor between the bride and the groom. It depicts the couple have already a strong mind and they are aware to build a family based upon mutual love.They believe, blessed by The Loving God to have a happy family with good children.” *-*

Kacar Kucur and Dhahar Klimah

According to jagadkejawen.com: The couple walks by holding each other with their little fingers to the site where this rite is going to be held i.e. in front of the Krobongan.( In a Javanese traditional house , every house has a Krobongan i.e a room located in the center of the house where offerings are placed on certain auspicious days. In front of the room stand a pair of wooden statues called Loro Blonyo, the symbol of prosperity. Prayers, meditation, special events including wedding ceremonies are held in front of the Krobongan. [Source: .jagadkejawen.com *-*]

“The ritual Kacar Kucur depicts the husband gives all his income to his wife. In this rite, the groom gives to his wife some mixture of peanuts, soybean, rice, corns, yellow rice, dlingo bengle herbs, severaL kind of petals of flowers, coins ( the quantity of the coins must be even). The bride with open heart receives these gifts in a small white cloth, above an old mat on her lap. It symbolizes she must be a good wife and mother who always behaves responsibly. *-*

“Dhahar Klimah or Dhahar Kembul is the rite of eating together for the bride and the groom, witnessed by the parents and close families of the bride. The groom makes three small balls of yellow rice with dishes of fried eggs, tempeh, soybean, slices of dried fried meat ( abon), chicken’s liver. First, the groom feeds the bride and in turn the bride feeds the groom. Then they drink sweet tea from the same cup. This rite depicts that from now on, they will use and enjoy their belongings together. In the old days, the rite of Tampa Kaya, Dhahar Kembul- eating together are held in front of the Krobongan in the center of the house. Nowadays, even a wedding party is held in a hotel or convention hall, the rituals are also carried out.The place where these rituals are held is decorated with krobongan like ornaments.” *-*

Sungkeman

According to jagadkejawen.com: “The bride’s parents meet the parents of the groom in front of the house. If the wedding is held in a function centre they will meet them in the front door of the reception hall. They walk together to the place of the ceremony. The mothers walk in front of the fathers. The parents of the groom are seated on the left side of of the newly wed couple. The bride’s parents sit on the right side of the couple. [Source: .jagadkejawen.com *-*]

“The groom and the bride do sungkem (putting both hands together as in prayer and bowing seeking blessings) to both parents. First to the parents of the bride, then to the parents of the groom.Sungkem is a show of deep respect, traditionally done: The parents sit on a chair. The bride and the groom kneel in front of them. The groom does the sungkem first to his father- in- law, then to mother-in-law. Kneeling he does a sembah- respecful greeting with his two palms of the hands joined together, fingertips upward, his two thumbs touching the tip of his nose. Slowly and lightly, he holds the right knee of his father – in-law and presses lightly his face to his father-in-law’s knee. In a low voice, politely, he says to him :” I give you my pangabekti – devotion”. The father-in-law with his left hand touching the upper part of his son-in-law’s back, in whispering voice says :” Accept my sincere blessings”. *-*

“Sungkem is a traditional way of expressing a sincere respect towards parents and the elderly and also to the Javanese kings in Yogyakarta and Surakarta during special palace Ceremonies. While the groom is doing sungkem, he is not allowed to wear his kris-dagger. Temporarily, the Pemaes holds the kris. After the sungkeman, the groom wears again his kris. After the groom, the bride is also doing sungkem. Then they do sungkem also to parents of the groom. *-*

“The sungkem ceremony is very emotional for the parents as well as for the newlyweds. The parents wholeheartedly accept their children’s love and devotion and at the same time, they give the very best wishes to their children to live happily in a harmonious fortunate family. In fact, the parents have given their blessing to the newly wed couple by wearing batik clothes of truntum designs during the wedding ceremony. It means a wish for fortunate life for the couple. The parents of both sides also wear the same design of Sindhur – a large and long waist sash with its curved edges which means life is like a river which winds through the mountains which symbolises that the parents are imploring their offspring to act wisely in their walk in life. *-*

Chinese Weddings in Indonesia: Events Before the Wedding

According to expat.or.id: “On the surface, ethnic Chinese weddings may seem more similar to western weddings, due to the Chinese Indonesian wedding –– bridal party adaptation of western wedding dress and the wedding cake. But that may be the extent of the similarities. About a week before the wedding, the family of the groom will go (without the groom) to the house of the bride bringing various gifts that are arranged in red baskets or red boxes or other red containers. Red symbolizes happiness and prosperity for the Chinese. Each basket should be carried by a member of the immediate family of the groom. The contents of the basket determines who should carry each basket. [Source: expat.or.id /~/]

“The baskets from the groom should all be carried by males. They contain various items, such as fruit in one basket, clothes in another, gold jewelry for the bride in another. Some are gifts from the groom and others are gifts from the family of the groom. Another basket contains 'uang susu' (milk money). Depending on the wealth of the family the gifts will be more or less generous. The bride. s family then accepts the baskets and takes them off to another room. Then ... this is the good part ... they sort through the gifts. Normally half of the gifts are placed back in the baskets and returned to the family of the groom. The basket is then returned to the person that brought it and everybody goes home./~/

“Three days before the wedding, the bride's family returns the favor and brings red baskets to the groom's house. These baskets are carried by females of the bride. s immediate family. The baskets normally contain clothes for the groom, shoes and fruit. Basically, things that he would use everyday. Some of the baskets contain makeup and personal things for the bride, such as nightgowns. This symbolizes that the groom's family is accepting her into their house. On her wedding day when she moves in, all of her personal belongings will already be in the groom's house. Again the gifts are sorted through and about half are returned. /~/

“Different ethnic Chinese groups will have variations on these proceedings, some more strictly adhered to than others. For example, Hokian, Cantonese or Kai have slight variations on these customs. For some, the groom's family will be invited into the new couple's bedroom after the bride's gifts have been received into the house and they will be invited to have a 'closet inspection'. It is expected that the bride has placed her things neatly in the closets indicating that she will be a good housekeeper.” /~/

Chinese Weddings in Indonesia: the Wedding Day

According to expat.or.id: “On the morning of the wedding day, the groom is symbolically dressed by his parents (helping him put his jacket on and his flower on his lapel). Then the groom and his parents would go to the house of the bride. The wedding couple would serve tea to both sets of parents while kneeling down in front of them. This symbolizes paying their respects as well as asking permission of their parents. The bride and groom would then go to the church, together in the same car, for the service. The church service is not really considered that important and only immediate family normally attend. The more important event to attend is the reception. [Source: expat.or.id /~/]

“After the church service, the newlyweds proceed to a professional photo studio and have their picture taken in 20 different poses so they have something to show their children 20 years later. After the photo session, the newlyweds go on to the reception that is usually a standing only event. The reception is run by an MC, usually someone who is hired to do the job and has perhaps met the couple once on a previous occasion to ask them some very informal questions so as he can pretend to know them. The reception begins with a speech of welcome from the MC. /~/

“The speech is followed by cake cutting ceremony. The wedding cake is usually a monstrous size. Normally it is Indonesian wedding cakelapis Surabaya (a layer cake) as the layers symbolize a ladder that you can climb up to success. It is also for this reason that some couples will cut the cake from the bottom layer and work their way upwards rather than starting at the top and working their way to the bottom! The cutting of the cake is usually the only event at the reception. The bride and groom cut the cake together and then feed the cake to each other with entwined arms, trying not to destroy the bride's elaborate makeup in the process. Then a piece of the cake would also be cut for each of the parents and grandparents and they too would be fed by the bride and groom holding the cake together. /~/

“After the cake cutting, and sometimes a toast, the guests are invited to shake hands with the newlyweds and their parents on the stage. In all weddings there is some musical entertainment as the attendees line up to shake hands. This could be as simple as a man with a keyboard up to the Jakarta Symphony or Twilite Orchestra. You would also shake hands again when you are going to leave. /~/

“At more elaborate ethnic Chinese weddings, there could be a sit-down wedding reception. If this is the case, expect an elaborate 9 to 10 course meal. It could feature Chinese cuisine only, or be mixed with western dishes as well. There could be a female singer or two, usually from Taiwan. Occasionally, friends or family members will get up from the audience to sing for the wedding couple. The head tables will usually get a bottle of cognac or whiskey. At the weddings of the very wealthy, beer, wine or champagne maybe served to the guests. Most of the ethnic Chinese customs that a decade ago would have been compulsory are being ignored by the younger generation today. Most of the customs that are carried out are done so to satisfy parents.” /~/

Sundanese Wedding Ceremony

According to expat.or.id: “Some common practices from a traditional Sundanese (West Java) wedding ceremony:Welcoming the bridegroom ceremony: 1) The bridegroom is welcomed with the umbul-umbul, a decoration indicating that a wedding ceremony is going on, which is also auspicious for the bridegroom. 2) The welcome is followed by a procession of ladies with candles. They pray to the Almighty seeking His blessing in order that there maybe no hindrances in the ceremony. 3) The showering of flowers by the dancers is symbolic of a fragrant future for the couple. 4) The umbrella held over the couple's heads, apart from serving as a protective symbol, indicates esteem and respect. 5) The mother of the bride gives the bridegroom a garland of flowers indicating his acceptability to the family. 6)The mother of the bride gives the bridegroom a keris, a hidden message to the son-in-law not to be disheartened while toiling for his family. [Source: expat.or.id /~/]

During the wedding ceremony, the bride and groom are seated next to each other with a selendang or veil covering their heads indicating two people but having one mind. The bride and groom bend forward and kiss the knees of their parents, called sungkem, asking for forgiveness and blessing and reassuring them that they will continue to serve their parents. Sawer This ceremony should take place in front of the sawer or gargoyle. The water flowing from the gargoyle indicates the continuous flow of priceless parental love for their children./~/

The bride and groom are seated under an umbrella in front of the entrance to the house. There are two singers, a man and a woman, who sing on behalf of the parents. The song, called kidung, advises the couple to treat each other well, living in harmony, and serves as a prayer to the Almighty to bless the couple. /~/

Then the sawer is showered on the couple. It consists of: 1) Turmeric rice Rice is a sign of prosperity and yellow stands for everlasting love; 2) Coins Reminding the couple to share their wealth with the less fortunate; 3) Candy Indicates sweetness and fragrance throughout their marriage; 4) A betel nut set near the couple is a reminder that their different customs should not spoil their harmonious marriage.

Nincak Endog; Sundanese Egg-Breaking Wedding Ceremony

The Nincak Endog is the egg breaking ceremony at a Sundanese wedding. According to expat.or.id: “The couple are required to stand facing each other in front of the entrance of the house. The bridegroom stands outside the entrance and the bride is inside the entrance. This ceremony is conducted by the lady in charge of the bridal makeup and serves as advice to the couple for their happiness and long wedded life.[Source: expat.or.id /~/]

The following items are used: 1) Harupat, seven broomsticks, are burnt and thrown away symbolizing the discarding of bad habits which endanger one. s married life. 2) An egg is broken, indicating that the groom will be the master of the house henceforth and the bride will serve him. 3) Ajug, seven candles, represents the direction the couple should follow to ensure a happy married life. 4) Elekon, hollow bamboo, which symbolizes emptiness. 5) Kendi, an earthen water jug filled with water, which stands for peace. 6) In the past, unmarried girls were not allowed to cross over logs. Here the bride is made to cross the log as a sign that she will always obey her husband. 7) The lady in charge of the ceremony gives the bride the harupat. The groom lights the harupat with the ajug. Then the flames are put out and the sticks are broken and thrown away. After the groom breaks the egg with his right foot, the bride cleans the groom's foot with the water from the kendi. Then the bride throws the kendi to break it. Then the couple are escorted to the house. The bride crosses the log and enters the house while the groom remains outside to perform the buka pintu ceremony. /~/

The Buka Pintu is a dialogue between the bride and groom in front of the house. However, they are represented by a couple who also sings for them. First, the couple knocks three times on the door, then enters into a dialogue whereby permission is requested by the groom to enter the bride's house. The bride consents on the condition that the groom will say the syahadat (confirming his Moslem faith). The song also solemnizes the importance of the nuptial ceremony. /~/

Huap Lingkung is symbolic of the last time the parents of the bride will feed their daughter. This is also the first dish prepared by the daughter in her new home. The dish consists of turmeric sticky rice with yellow spiced chicken on top of it. During the Patarik-Tarik Bakakak couple are given a barbecued spiced chicken. On hearing the word “go” from the lady conducting the ceremony, the couple has to pull the chicken apart. The one who gets the larger piece supposedly will bring in the larger share of the family fortune. This ceremony also serves to remind the couple to encourage each other to work hard together to gain good fortune. /~/

Karo Batak Wedding

Describing the wedding between a German named Heinz and his Batal bride Merry, Danielle Surkatty wrote on expat.or.id: “While each of the major Batak societies/tribes (Alas-Kluet, Angkola, Dairi, Karo, Mandailing, Pakpak, Simalungun, Sipirok, and Toba) are related, they have distinctive languages, customs and cultures. The traditional Batak homelands surround Toba Lake in North Sumatra. Merry Ginting is from the Ginting marga (clan) of the Karo Batak ethnic group, and her family ensured that the necessary wedding customs were followed, even though she was marrying a German national. [Source:Danielle Surkatty, Kem Chicks' World, September 2001.expat.or.id /^/]

“As most Karo Batak are Christian, a wedding ceremony in the church follows the two traditional ceremonies so the church can bless the union. The newlyweds usually dress up in western wedding finery, with an elaborate white dress and suit/tuxedo. The church ceremony must also be followed by a visit to the Civil Registry office to ensure the government legally registers the marriage. /^/

“The primary obstacle to Heinz and Merry's marriage was the Batak tradition that a Batak can only marry another Batak, so Heinz had to be accepted into a Batak marga. Since tradition further stipulates that a man may not marry a woman from his own clan, Batak grooms have to search among the other 451 marga for a wife. Fortunately, Heinz gives traditional uis nipis textiles to family representatives in the ceremony which will ensure his entrance into the Brahmana clan.non-Batak grooms can be adopted by a willing Batak clan and thereby marry a Batak wife according to tradition. /^/

“When the wedding reception is concluded tradition demands that the bride and groom must return to the groom's family home and reside for four days and nights, without ever leaving the home for any reason. This practice dates to ancient pre-Christian customs where the groom's family prevented the possible kidnapping of a reluctant bride by a thwarted lover. The elaborate ceremonies in a traditional Karo Batak wedding are filled with symbolic rituals and customs. These customs ensure the acceptance of the new union by their new families, establish the intricate relationships that will govern their lives and provide the opportunity for family members to extend advice and good wishes and give gifts to the happy couple. A Karo Batak wedding is a richly meaningful life-cycle event, enjoyed and celebrated by all the members of the families involved.”/^/

Before a Batak Wedding: Becoming Part of the Family

Danielle Surkatty wrote on expat.or.id: “The marga is an extensive, complex system of relationships between Batak family members within the clan and between clans. Each person, dependent on their relationship to others through parentage, sibling relationships or marriage has their own place in the relationships between clans, represented by a specific term. Unweaving this web of relationships is difficult at best and near to impossible without hours of study of the various ways in which people are considered to be related. [Source:Danielle Surkatty, Kem Chicks' World, September 2001.expat.or.id /^/]

In Heinz's case, the adoptive family was the Brahmana clan of Merry's father's younger sister. Heinz's adoptive parents held a special ceremony to discuss and get their permission for this adoption from their related clan members. All clan members must agree, as the newly admitted son becomes their relative as well. As the Batak are patrilineal, the discussions were held between the male elders of the Brahmana family groupings which would be affected by Heinz's joining the marga. The family grouping representatives involved in this ceremony were the: 1) puang kalimbubu - the prospective mother in-law's clan (Tarigan); 2) kalimbubu - the prospective mother's clan (Ginting); 3) sembuyak - the prospective father's clan (Brahmana); 4) anak beru - all the women in the father's clan (Brahmana women). /^/

“Heinz sat with these family grouping representatives, and gave the symbolic gifts of a uis nipis (traditional ulos When the traditional uis nipis textile is placed around Heinz's neck, he is accepted into the Brahmana clan.textile), a parang (dagger) and money, in this case a symbolic amount of Rp 12,000. The men accepted the uis nipis, and put the textile over their shoulders. Discussions followed where Heinz and the family representatives discussed his joining the clan. At the successful conclusion of the discussions, the Brahmana family gave Heinz a uis nipis as a symbol of his acceptance into the clan. The textile was placed over his shoulders, and Heinz was then considered a son of his new parents and a full member of the Brahmana clan, with full rights and obligations, except the right of inheritance. As he was now a Batak, he could proceed with marrying Merry. /^/

Events Before Karo Batak Wedding

Danielle Surkatty wrote on expat.or.id: “Heinz and his new clan members took part in two traditional ceremonies (pesta adat) to seek permission to wed Merry, the ngembah belo selambar (which means to bring a sirih leaf) and the nganting manuk (which means to bring a chicken). Heinz's new family went with him to the Ginting household to conduct these traditional ceremonies. As the prospective groom, the cost of the ceremonies was Heinz's responsibility. [Source:Danielle Surkatty, Kem Chicks' World, September 2001.expat.or.id /^/]

“Ngembah belo selambar opens with the giving of the traditional gift of kampil. As dictated by tradition, Heinz gave kampil to his sembuyak, kalimbubu, puang kalimbubu, anak beru and perbibin (maternal aunts). The kampil is a closed basket, which is woven from pandanus leaves. It contains the ingredients for smoking andThe first step in many Batak Karo ceremonies is the giving of kampil to family members betel chew . tobacco, matches or a lighter, sirih and other betel chew ingredients and small food items. The gifts are consumed as friendly conversation is enjoyed. When finished, the basket is returned empty and the ceremony can begin. /^/

“Discussions ensue between the two families . to determine if everyone is in agreement with the marriage, what the dowry will be, where the wedding will be held, how many people will be invited, what the wedding will cost, and who will pay for it. Men and women are separated during these discussions, with the men making all the decisions. Following the successful conclusion of marriage negotiations in the ngembah belo selambar, either on the same day or soon thereafter, the nganting manuk ceremony is held for the symbolic payment of the dowry. Traditionally, the prospective groom's family brings a chicken to the bride's house, as the name of the ceremony implies. Nowadays, the chicken is usually accompanied by a traditional meal. /^/

“The bride's family examines the dowry given to them by the groom and his family.The dowry is symbolic of the replacement cost of the loss of the female to the clan. The amount is determined by the bride's family and is the same for all the clan's women who get married. In the Ginting clan the amount is Rp 286,000. The actual dowry will be paid at the wedding reception to members of the bride's family. /^/

Batak Wedding Reception

Danielle Surkatty wrote on expat.or.id: “Anyone who has ever been to a Karo Batak wedding reception can see that the Karo sure know how to enjoy a wedding party, which they refer to as the Kerja si mbelin (pesta besar), or big party. The Karo bring new meaning to the adage, “Eat, drink and be merry” as a good time is had by all attending family and friends. The wedding party enters the reception hall in a long processional with the bride and groom leading the way, - The bride and groom enter the reception hall in a procession followed by their families.followed by the bride's parents, the groom's parents and then the close family members, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. The groom's anak beru throw rice in front of the couple, to symbolize fertility. As the procession reaches the center of the hall, it stops and the family members separate with the bride's family sitting on woven mats (tikar) on one side of the hall, and the groom's family sitting on mats on the other side of the hall, facing each other. [Source:Danielle Surkatty, Kem Chicks' World, September 2001.expat.or.id /^/]

“One distinctive feature of a Karo Batak wedding reception is that guests are seated on mats, not on chairs. After the dowry is paid, the bride and groom are dance the landek for their guests in the middle of the reception hallThe anak beru of the bride's family cross the room to offer traditional kampil gifts to the groom's family as a sign of respect, though they don't necessarily have to partake of the contents during the reception. The women of the bride's and groom's family then discuss the dowry that was agreed upon, and the groom's family pays the dowry to the members of the bride's family present at the ceremony. Even if they each receive Rp 500 or Rp 1,000, they feel compensated!/^/

The groom's family formally states that since they've paid the dowry they would like to assume possession of the bride. Both families stand and escort the bride and groom to meet in the center of the room, all doing the traditional As the bride and groom sing and dance for their guests, people come forward and drop money into the basket as a gift to the happy couple.landek dance. Since the dowry has been paid and accepted, according to Batak tradition the couple is now considered married. The families return to their respective sides of the room and the bride and groom are left dancing in the center of the room, with all eyes on the newlyweds. They dance the landek and sing to entertain their guests. As they sing and dance, family and friends come forward and put money in a basket at their feet as wedding gifts. The money is a modern custom and is not required by traditional customs (adat). /^/

“When the newlyweds finish entertaining their guests, they are accompanied by their families who dance the landek down the hall to the stage (pelaminan) where the bride and groom sit in a highly decorated setting with both sets of parents. In this instance, since Heinz was adopted into the Brahmana marga, his adoptive parents were onstage, as well as his actual brother and sister who flew in from Germany for the festive occasion. /^/

“After the family members are seated, the speeches begin. The first speeches are given by representatives of the groom's family, followed by the bride's family representatives. Both begin with speeches from their sembuyak, then the kalimbubu, and finally the anak beru. The newlyweds descend from the stage and stand before the various family groups as they give them advice on marriage, and how to maintain good relations with their in-laws and other family members. As the various family groupings come forward and the representative gives the advice to the newlyweds, anyone within that family grouping who wants to give a gift to the couple comes forward and does so. /^/

Batak Wedding Gifts and Dress

Danielle Surkatty wrote on expat.or.id: “As in all traditional Indonesian wedding ceremonies, the wearing of elaborate traditional clothing is required. Heavy ornamentation with accessories and layers of various fabrics utilize colors and designs which are highly symbolic to the Karo Batak. The bride's heavy headdress is called tudung gul. The groom's hat is called bulang-bulang. The bride and groom Heinz Kathmann and Rose Merry Ginting in traditional Batak Karo wedding dressare both adorned in a variety of gold accessories, called emas sertali. These include earrings, necklace and bracelets. While solid gold heirloom accessories are lent to young brides by their female relatives, many modern brides opt for gold-plated accessories, as they are much lighter to wear. The solid gold accessories can weigh over 2 1/2 kilograms. [Source:Danielle Surkatty, Kem Chicks' World, September 2001.expat.or.id /^/]

“The traditional Batak ulos textiles used in the wedding dress are all called uis nipis. However, they have different, special names when used in wedding dress, dependent on where they are worn on the body. The uis nipis worn over Heinz's shoulders was the one given him during the ceremony to enter the Brahmana marga and is called langge-langge. The bride is wearing a sarong songket Palembang, and over that a red uis nipis which is called ndawa when worn wrapped around the hips in the wedding costume. The black textile that is worn by both bride and groom is called julu. /^/

“Traditionally, close family members give textiles to the couple. These include uis nipis, batik and other textiles,Family members give the newlyweds traditional textiles, which they wrap around the wedding couple as a symbol of togetherness and anticipated fertility which are closely wrapped around the couple's shoulders, bringing them close together, symbolizing the togetherness of marriage. A batik selendang is often wrapped around the couple as a symbol of hoped for fertility as the selendang will one day hold the children that will come from the union. These ritual gift exchanges between the bride-giving and bride-receiving sides of the families are believed to increase fertility in the marriage. /^/

“Another traditional gift is the luah berebere. These practical household items are given by the bride's maternal uncle's family (kalimbubu). They symbolize the setting up of the newlywed's household. Traditionally, luah Presentation of the traditional luah berebere gifts to the newlyweds from the bride's maternal uncle's family.berebere includes: mattress, pillows, sheets, dishes, glasses, silverware, an oil lamp, rice and bowls. In addition to the practical items, food is given which must include one chicken egg and two live yellowish-color hens, which symbolize fertility for the new couple.” /^/

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated June 2015

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