Ika and I are back in Bali after a week in Semarang in Central Java going through the marriage ceremonies that are the custom there.
As many people will know I changed my religion in order to get married and am now considered a muslim by the Indonesian government. I do not consider myself a muslim or any other religion and for me it was a part of jumping through hoops for other people. Being a part of the whole thing and observing the way that Indonesians have adapted their ancient animist beliefs with Javanese ceremony, the muslim religion, odd bits of Hinduism and the 21st century was very interesting.
I will be detailing separate parts of the wedding shortly but right now will share a few of the outfits Ika and I had to wear. For those considering getting married in Java it is no quick thing altogether. The religious and cultural rules have to be obeyed and a series of ceremonies and outfits must be worn in order to property abide by tradition.
I brought a suit from Bali and was told that arrangements had been made for the traditional costumes. During our week in Semarang here is a look at the things we showed up in starting with a Javanese outfit for the night before the wedding. According to tradition the family giving the bride away must ceremonially wash her. Her granny had her own version of this which had to be performed in the family bathroom. For this Ika wore a burgundy kebaya (top) a black and white sarong and a good dose of white stuff to give her that Halloween in New Orleans look.
When that was over she popped across the street to another ladies house to get fixed up for the next ceremonial washing, this time appearing in a Cleopatra type thing. Dad gave her the first good soaking with the laddle followed by a throng of other sticklers to tradition.
Ika had a make up artist work on her and get her hair into the shape they though it should be. A whiter complexion is desirable for many Indonesians so good doses of white powder get thrown around. We wore these outfits only briefly for a photo shoot and to meet a few people at the house.
Later that night 50 religious muslims came over to pray for us. Sitting outside watching Ika and I dressed pretty casual but I was told to wear my pecis (hat).
Wednesday morning I wore my suit and Ika appeared as a weird creation that seemed something of a combination of traditional Javanese, prom night and geisha girl for the muslim wedding, myself again with the muslim pecis.
For our Javanese wedding we changed right after this into traditional Javanese outfits, the black jackets being a key indicator. Our sarongs were thick and very elegant and were held up with yards of wide cloth. However the little head peace I was wearing was too small for my big head and perched on it rather than fitting correctly. This thing at first glance looks like it is a cleverly folded piece of batik. Actually it is hard and can be placed on quickly. Ikas head gear made her look like a fairy on a Christmas cake and was complete with a band of woven flowers.
Our ceremony was the egg-crushing one with me exploding the thing with my right food and spraying yoke on the kneeling Ikas jacket. She gamely washed my feet with flower petal water and then we kneeled at her parents feet.
The last a wildest costumes were saved till last, the reception that was held on Saturday. Sean and Chris were set up with their own cool outfits which you will see soon. I was thinking no worries when I was told to get into a pair of orange pyjama bottoms. It only got weirder from there! A black and gold, flowing skirt was followed by various belts and gold colored accessories. A ceremonial kris, the traditional knife was stuck into the back of my sarong, lipstick and a coffee colored powder were applied to my face and body. The whole show was capped off by a light blue waste bin, that is what I thought it was anyway and turned out to be my hat for the day. Sitting in the bedroom on a stool and having 3 ladies fuss around me arguing over the right Javanese skin color and what piece of shiny stuff to pin on next, I wondered who came up with this idea. I mean we are in the 21st century and this outfit looks like the clown suit a performer at Barnum & Bailey might wear.
Whatever pleases the home team is my motto and they seemed suitably impressed by the final edition.