An invite to attend a Javanese wedding?
While visiting Yogyakarta, we were invited to attend a traditional Javanese wedding in a small village 30 minutes south of the city. Nur, who works at Sae Sae Hostel heard we were writing a blog and thought it might be fun for us to join in the celebration of her friends big day.
We began our trek to the village with a pit stop for some breakfast. Delicious soto at a local roadside joint. Soto is a traditional Indonesian soup mainly composed of broth, meat and vegetables and served in the morning alongside fried tempeh.
From there we hopped back on our bike and drove 30 minutes to reach the village which is tucked away behind a beautiful rice field and buried in lush green jungle foliage.
The diversity of cultures, religions and beliefs create vast differences between the kinds of weddings that take place. Engagements tend to be quite long, so the families exchange gifts with one another to strengthen their new bond.
Javanese weddings have a real go-big factor. Everyone from acquaintances to neighbors are likely to receive an invitation. Heck, we were invited by a childhood friend of the bride, we had never even met the couple before this day.
PREP FOR THE BIG DAY
Preparing for a go-big wedding in a small village in Yogyakarta seemed like no easy task. Everyone had a role. The women begin to cook as much as a week in advance depending on the size of the wedding. The young men wear matching shirts and work as servers. The men sit in the back and watch the events unfold making sure everything is performed properly.
Javanese wedding ceremonies are very fragrant, colorful and rich with tradition and usually consist of two parts. The first part had the groom wearing a black suit-like jumper and the bride a beautiful white dress. The two approached the ceremony area slowly as all of the guests looked on. When they reached the front, they were met by a minister who spoke to them about their engagement and actually went over paperwork signifying the commencement of their marriage. Next, they left their thrones and walked to their wedding chambers to change their clothes.
The second part began with another approach to the alter from their chambers. This time, both the groom and bride were wearing beautiful red brass and gold laden fabrics, fragrant with jasmine, and draped with strings of flowers.
Then the minister proceeded with the ceremony. One of the most interesting parts was the ritual of Wiji Dadi. The groom smashes a chicken egg with his right foot and then it's washed by the bride using water mixed with several kinds of flowers. It symbolizes that the groom is ready to become a responsible father and that the bride is ready to faithfully serve him.
Similar to an American wedding, the next part of the ceremony involves food. It's a ritual called Dahar Kembul. The bride and groom feed each other small balls of rice along with sides like fried eggs, soybean, tempeh, slices of fried meat and chicken liver and afterward they drink sweet tea. This ritual symbolizes the sharing of possessions.
After this, the couple kneels, asks for blessings from their families and like that, they are finally untied in marriage.
A wide variety of food is served at a javanese wedding. Sticky rice, stuffed with shredded chicken, fried bananas, chicken legs, noodles, vegetables, fish crackers and krecek, a traditional Javanese cattle skin cracker. It's all delicious. Every last bite. Piping hot, sweet jasmine tea is served to wash it all down.
Nur graciously invited us to an event we couldn't have imagined being a part of. Some of the children in the village had never even seen a westerner before. Interacting with them, and them with us was an experience in itself.
The people were so friendly and some seemed more excited to meet us than to celebrate the marriage between the bride and groom. They asked to have their photos taken with us left and right and that was all a lot to take in. We were humbled by the fact that the families in this village were so kind and welcoming to us, and we won't forget this incredible ceremony.
Many thanks to Nur and her newly-wedded friends for having us along to celebrate and partake in their special day.