10 Things on Traditional Wedding in Indonesia - Ceremonies - Customs

by Michelle Devani

The wedding is the important process life. The many people mention if the wedding is the door to open the new life. That is why many people do every process in wedding very seriously although it will be spending too much energy.

In Indonesia, especially marriage is not only a union between two people but also the union between two families. It is the reason why in marriages traditionally done in Indonesia is always talked about by two big families. Two big families will begin discussions about marriage even before the decision about the date or wedding day ceremony (wedding) of the bride and groom. Men usually advance to apply proposal than women. Indeed, here is the things you need to know about traditional wedding in Indonesia:

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Pre-Wedding

The marriage steps (process) in Indonesia is generally the same but as it has been known that Indonesia has various cultures then there is the little cultural difference in traditional marriage steps (process) in Indonesia based on tribe. The male usually has the dominant role. But, here we only talk about the general steps (process) that must be passed by the bride and groom when deciding to marry:

  1. Introduction between parents and prospective bride

This is the start process that strains for your girlfriend because it is the first process that can be made you get the agreement and blessing of your parents. You have to capable of doing negotiation with your parents if you want to pass this first process successfully.

You may also read: How to Propose Someone

  1. The meeting between two parents, proposal

After the introduction the parents and your girlfriend, if the parents give agreement, usually your girlfriend’s parents will ask you to bring your parents to meet with them (the prospective bride’s parents).

  1. The meeting between two families, proposal/ formal engagement (Seserahan)

The meeting between two families that called as a formal proposal (in Indonesia), usually presented by parents and main family both of you and your prospective bride (girlfriend) in your prospective bride (girlfriend) house. In this agenda, your parents and your main family will bring gifts (Seserahan) for your girlfriend. Generally, the contains of gifts (Seserahan) in Indonesia traditional wedding are:

  • Religious items symbolize the marriage will value religious teachings. The groom has enough knowledge to guide the bride in marriage life.
  • Wedding rings as the symbolize of the last forever marriage hopes because the circle of rings that no end.
  • Amounts of money to expense the wedding ceremony. The amounts of money are based on the social status and level of educations. Some of the tribes will count the money in front of the all participants or guest in the “Seserahan”.
  • Jewelry such as earrings, bracelet, rings and necklaces that symbolize the prosperity.
  • Clothes such as kebaya fabric, Jarik/ Sarong (long traditional fabric) and scarves.
  • Fruits (bananas, grapes, oranges and apples.) that symbolize signifies hope, the couple’s life will be fresh.
  • Traditional food, such as sticky rice snacks. It symbolizes for the hope “sticky love” relationship between you and your girlfriend.
  • Traditional items, Javanese people mentioned traditional items as Suruh Ayu, different name in every area but the main contains traditional items are betel leaf (sirih leaves) set.
  • A makeup set for the bride’s beauty. It means or symbolizes for the wife to beautify herself every day. The beautiful bride symbolize the competent of the bride to make happy the groom (husband) in marriage life.
  • Footwear symbolizes the readiness both of you and your girlfriend to “walk lives together.

The gifts (Seserahan) brought by the groom symbolizes that the groom is the person who is able to meet the material needs of his wife and their children later and a person who can be a leader in family life. The gifts (Seserahan) also symbolizes the social status of both, the bride and groom in social society.

The exchange of engagement rings between you as the prospective groom and the prospective bride is also done on the formal proposal (Seserahan) agenda. In here agenda, for some traditions, as a symbol of an insurance that guarantee the groom will take good care of the bride after marriage, the groom presents a bowl filled with rice to the bride. The decision of the marriage ceremony (wedding day) also is decided in this time (Seserahan).

You may read: Islamic Dating Rules - Christian Wedding Traditions

The Wedding Day

After the complicated and those long processes, the traditional wedding in Indonesia day process can be explained step by step here:

  1. Siraman (Take a bath) at the home of each bride

The Traditional wedding in Indonesia. This is the process that will do by the bride and groom before the wedding day. The purpose of the siraman (take a bath) tradition is to clean the bride’s and groom’s body as well as their souls. This is the important traditions to get purity before the next step, progress, and new life, marriage life.

After the siraman (take a bath), the bride comes to the wedding room. In the wedding room, the bride’s usually get the beauty treatment. For example, from the Java traditional wedding, the bride’s hair is smoked the perfumed powder (ratus). The bride’s hair combed and tied up in a bun strongly (gelung). Not only the bride’s hair that gets the touch, the bride’s face and neck are also cleaned then the makeup by the Pemaes is put on. Kebaya and batik jarik (long fabric) is the traditional women’s clothes that wore by the bride. The kebaya and batik jarik (long fabric) have indicated the prosperous life. The little different treatment can be found in each tribe and areas. But, for the main rituals are generally the same.

  1. The Night to Put henna or powder nail (Midodareni night)

The story of this tradition from the story of Widodari. Widodari is the goddess that comes from the heaven and the women that want to marry and do midodareni at night will get the visit from the goddess, widodari. The light of the goddess will give to the bride. It reasons why the midodareni is also important tradition for the wedding, especially for the bride. The bride will become as beautiful as a goddess based on the ancient belief.

In each tribe has the different name for this tradition such as “mappaci” and “bepacar” but there are no big different rituals, generally they are same. This is the tradition to beautify the bride.

The coming of the groom’s to the bride’s house is a sign to start the midodareni night. The bride will be secluded in this traditions. The bride and the groom are forbidden to meet each other. The bride only gets permission to stay in her room and forbidden to get out from her room.

For the groom, he will get the four points advice about the marriage life. In javanesse, the four points advice called Catur Wedha. The different tribe has the different name for catur wedha, but all of the tribes has the same rituals with catur wedha.

The four point advice of catur wedha are:

  • Hangayomi (Protect): The groom as a husband has a responsibility to protect his wife and children.
  • Hangayani (Prosperity): Prosperity is the responsibility that has to do by the groom as the leader in family life.
  • Hangayemi (Comfort): The love is grown by the comfort feeling that has by the groom as a husband.
  • Hanganthi (guide): As the leader, the groom has to guide the bride in their life journey as the family.

The close of the traditions is signed by the accepted from two families to let their daughter and son to life together in marriage life. The bride and the groom have to have steady heart and confident to be together in their future life.

  1. The Exchange Vow

This is the time to exchange vow between bride and groom based on their religion. This is the most sacred traditions because of the bride and groom promise to live together in the presence of God. The dowry is mentioned in this part of wedding agenda.

Before promise each other in the presence of God, the priest will give the sermon from the bible messages for the bride and groom. The bride and groom have to listen and muse the marriage messages as the provisions to face with their future life.

  1. Panggih (meeting between the bride and groom)

The tradition of the calling feels more valuable because the bride and groom have been able to meet today with the legal status. The ceremony of respect with bowing or prostration with parents is one of the sequences of the panggih traditions.

  1. The wedding day

In this time, the bride and the groom sit on the stage to stay for the several hours to meet with the invited guests. How many guests are invited and how many glamour events at the reception will show how high the social status of the two brides in social society.

The wedding day is also as the time to do interaction or is social with families, friends, colleagues and the people surround both the bride and groom.

The ceremony of a traditional wedding in Indonesia is too long and complicated ceremony that indicates the specific meanings in each ritual. That is why the ceremony or steps traditional wedding in Indonesia spends too many times, energy and also budgets. It is not surprising if the ceremony or the glamorous of steps traditional wedding Indonesia can show the social status of the people in their social society or community.

Although we can see the social status of the people from the ceremony (that they do) but we can not judge the people only from their ceremony because nowadays many people do not want to celebrate their ceremony glamor. The steps traditional wedding Indonesia that have specific meanings are more valuable than social status.

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Indonesia has the rich culture with the different steps traditional wedding, different steps, and process in every tribe and every area. But, the traditional wedding Indonesia culture is a unique and long process in each tribe. Usually different process in the traditional wedding is not also based on the different tribe but also based on the different of the religion of the couple bride.

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Michelle Devani
My name is Michelle Devani, and I've been helping people with their relationships since 2003. In 2017 I decided it was about time I started a blog on the topic, and since then more than 2 million people worldwide have read my relationship advice. Drop me a comment below to let me know what you think.

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