There were three wedding invitations on my table last Tuesday.
I never thought I would really get to attend one but then luckily the workplace organized a transport last Thursday to bring all those who can escape from work and extend well-wishes to the couples who were having their big day.
I joined one.
We traveled for about an hour through rolling hills and unpaved road.
Then we reached the village aka kampong.
From a distance you can already hear that a party is going on. We walked a few meters, turned some corners until we reached the village hall.
Gathered there were family members, friends and other relatives of the bride and groom. It was an interesting sight for me. People were garbed in their traditional costumes with those interesting head dress and Batik. The place was just overflowing with Batik, Indonesia’s national cloth.
As the ceremony was already ongoing when we arrived, somebody ushered us in a small area to eat first.
Rice, plates and plastic glasses were placed in the middle of the mat. Everybody is expected to gather around.
I was thinking if they only serve rice during weddings up until a man with a pail filled with steaming mix of meat and vegetables arrived and scooped one big spoon of the dish to my plate.
This was how our plates look like. And there was a bowl of water in the middle to wash our hands. There were no spoon and fork. I made sure I got the first dip in the bowl as it is shared by the owners of all those four plates. That same bowl of water will be used to wash the hands after eating. I made sure I washed my hands in running water after the meal.
The meal was interesting. It is spicy and very tasty. The vegetable came from puso ng saging or the crown of banana (?) and the meat was something I still can’t place until now. I am sure my Dad would be able to perfectly guess what it is based from the taste. The meal has to be eaten fast as the meat turns into greasy yellow quickly. I hope the meat is not from an animal I wouldn’t dare to eat.
After the meal we came back to watch the ceremony.
The families of the bride and groom stand facing each other in the middle of the hall. One by one, the important members from the side of the groom leaves messages for the newly married couple while the family of the bride listens. It was full of drama. Sometimes, one family member will burst out crying as he/she is giving his/her message and the couple will walk towards him/her, hold his/her hands as if saying everything will be ok.
And I can’t help but notice these women with stuff on their head. It turned out those will be their gifts to the new family.
As these were ongoing, I was looking around trying to take in as much as I can.
I noticed that men and women are in separate circles. Women are huddled together oblivious to what is going on while the men are hunched over taking a drag from their cigarettes.
One thing very fascinating for me were the women chewing a reddish stuff. I know it was bad to stare but I just can’t help it. And they seem not to mind especially after learning that I am not orang Indonesia. They willingly showed me how to prepare it. At first I thought it was betel nut they were chewing. But then they don’t use the seed that I saw some old people in the Philippines were chewing. They use dried tobacco (leaves?).
These two Indonesian ladies were such dolls as they demoed to me how to make one. I would have wanted to try and taste it but then my colleague told me it is better if I don’t.
Fine. But I made sure I had a photo with them.
Oh, and another thing about this leafy concoction, they have to spit out the reddish juice that came out with chewing. I really think it is like the version of nganga in the Philippines, only with different ingredients.
So yeah, after the messages, the fun part began.
It was part of the wedding ceremony and the movements were all symbolical. I was smiling as I was watching.
Until I was dragged into the center and was forced to dance with the groom which I willingly obliged with my own version of dance steps of course.
I enjoyed the wedding so much.
It is not the typical one I am used to and there are things that I will probably not get used to but what the heck, this is culture. I am just so honored to be invited and to be able to participate in such a loving event.
I wish the bride and groom a lasting and fruitful marriage.
I made sure I have a souvenir with the newly weds before the day ended. They looked so regal with that costume. Don’t you think so?
It was more than a wedding for me. It was a cultural performance and I am very honored to witness it firsthand.