Armadi, our friend from Captain Haddocks had invited me to attend a wedding with her on Friday morning so I made sure to be ready and waiitng at Haddocks when she arrived at 8.45am. I got there early and had a coffee and some toast. This was my first Balinese wedding and I was interested to see what went on and the rituals performed by the participants.
We were joined by one of Armadi’s uncles, a French guy named Roman and his girlfriend Lia who works at Haddocks. Armadi suggested I wear a sarong and between herself and her uncle they fitted it in the local style. Of course I’m a bit taller than most Balinese so mine looked like it was a bit short. No worries more air flow is always good. Armadi was done up a treat in a bright purple sequined outfit
We set off in a small Suzuli Samurai and headed off in the direction of Kintimani. Our journey took about 90 minutes and we passed small towns, villages and paddies. Inside the Suzuki we had no air con and had to rely on the breeze as we were driving. Traffic jams mean’t we spent periods of time stopped and it steamy let me tell you.
Arriving in the village we pulled up in front of a house and walked down a gang ( alley ) to the house of the groom and his parents. We were greeted at the entrance by a uncle of the groom and other locals who were perfroming their duties of helping out. We made a small donation to the couple by dropping an envelope in a envelope into a box. I asked Armadiwhat was the normal amount and she said whatever you thought was okay you can give. She gave 25,000rp so I did the same. It was sort of like that scene from Goodfellas only with a lot less cash floating around.
The young groom, looking like a cross between Michael Jackson and Prince stood nervously greeting relatives as they arrived. His outfit though mostly traditional had a Javanese jacket, which was his own addition. Armadi told me in Bali its normal for the groom to wear lipstick and other make up at the wedding. In fact both bride and groom were wearing a skin lotion that makes the skin appear lighter in color.
We took a little snack at the entrance with some peanuts, a rice cake and a soda and sat close to the temple structure in the house compound. The groom’s uncle explained to me that in traditional Balinese style houses are laid out with many separate parts, a place for living, the temple and other places for offerings, that way if an accident happens and one part burns down the other parts can be saved.
My group sat on white plastic chairs underneath a high bamboo shade that was directly in front of the main temple structure. I wasn’t sure what was onig to happen. The whole place was overflowing with offerings and the groom’s uncle told me that the Hindus in India do not give offeringsofferings to this level. He said that the Balinese believe that they come from God and if they give back to God they will enjoy good fortune and later return to God. After touring the bomb site around the Sari Club it is remarkable that the Balinese religious structures were virtually undamaged whereas a lot of other buildings were totally destroyed.
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The grooms father sat with a microphone and spoke in a cross between a speech and a low chant. Armadi said he was welcoming everyone. The crowd consisted mostly of ladies in traditional outfits and men who had taken off a hour from their job to come and celebrate. We managed to get the groom’s family to pose for a couple of photos along with us.
Apparently the actually wedding ceremony was being held that evening and this was the main feast. The purpose of this is to recieve friends and relatives and judging by the bride and groom’s energy level it was going to be a long day. There were 2 sets of tables set up, a large set had dishes of rice, noodles, satay chicken, pork, all kinds of dishes and soups. The other table was labled ‘vegetarian’ and had rice noodles, greens beans, a kind of salsa and tempeh. We were invited to dive in so I gathered an assortment of items. It all tasted good to me. About a minute after we sat down a few more people started to dribble towards the table which gave the signal to everyone to go for it. A minute later you couldn’t see the table there were so many people around it.
Desert was a slice of melon, grapes and pineapple, plus a packaged water. Interesting to see how modern life has become involved with the Balinese wedding. Over the music system Indonesian music played at low volumn while the people were eating. After most people had finished a couple of girls with large baskets collected the used water bottles and paper plate covers / garbage. Some of the men started to leave and the music was changed to Louis Armstrong. Funny all this time and I didn’t realise he was from Bali.
The whole time I was sitting under the shade I was sweating profusely as were most people, it seemed unually hot.
We left the wedding celebration after a couple of hours and thanked everyone for having us. People seemed glad we had come. Armadi told me there are so many wedding she has to go to she can’t even count them in a year. Modern life and Balinese tradition don’t mix well sometimes and the amount of time devoted to family, village and religious duty really makes having a career or owning a business difficult.
Setting off once again in the Samurai we hit a traffic jam where a couple of trucks had broken down. One of them was filled with rocks and the guys had to unload their cargo before they could move the thing. We managed to go around both of them. I couldn’t resist snapping a photo of a sleeping kid on a motorcycle, something you see everyday almost.
We made a pit stop at a campur drink stand on the way home. Campur means ‘mixture’ and this drink was typically Asian…ice, sugar, various colored pieces of jelly with some kind of curd and a squirt of chocolate sauce. I drank most of mine but was still trying to figure out exactly what it was supposed to taste like by the time we got up to leave.
This was a cool exprience and I’m sure I’ll many more ceremonies in the coming year.