|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 3, Issue 17, Tuesday December 6, 2005|
weddings across cultures
In our Weddings special issue, we're focusing on weddings across cultures, and this involves the difference in wedding rituals between different faiths, as well as the difference caused by geographical boundaries. Our interior décor guru Nazneen Haque Mimi gives us a taste of a cross cultural wedding, so read on for a little international flavour.
Enter the players in this romantic story:
She was an Indonesian Muslim, of Padang (West Sumatran) descent, born and raised in Jakarta, a career-oriented woman with ten years of working experience.
Now, since most Indonesian weddings are determined by the culture of the bride, our featured wedding was performed according to the Padang tradition. Now let's take a look at how it all works.
According to the family laws pertaining to marriages in Indonesia, all couples wishing to marry must declare a religion. Agnosticism and Atheism are not recognised. Both partners must be of the same religion, or else, one of the partners will have to declare in writing, a change of religion. Since both partners in this particular wedding were Muslim, that wasn't a problem.
Since, however, the groom was of a different nationality, care had to be taken to complete the legal formalities of matrimony that pertained to both their countries. They had to file for a marriage certificate and the groom had to obtain a document called “Letter of No Impediment to Marriage” from his Consular Representative.
After notifying the Marriage Registrar at least ten days before the actual ceremony is to take place, and after obtaining all the necessary documents, the couple is ready to tie the knot.
In Indonesia, the engagement period may vary from a few months to a few years. During this period, pretty much the way it happens in Bangladesh, ceremonial gift giving takes place between the families to strengthen the bonds.
Finally, the big day arrives, and the wedding ceremony takes place. As long as the Islamic rituals remain the same, the couples are allowed to choose the venue for their wedding. Our featured couples decided to have theirs in the lush neighbourhood of Menteng, a diplomatic zone, at the Rumah Maroko, a house built in the Moroccan style, with carved parapets bordering the roofs, mosaic-tiled walls and fancifully shaped windows. The building belongs to the former Indonesian Ambassador to Morocco.
The wedding took place in August last year, with 51 guests from the groom's side flying in from Bangladesh, India, Canada, Thailand, and Malaysia to attend the festivities, staying at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Sudirman Road, Jakarta.
The wedding ceremony itself follows the basic Muslim marriage requirements of consent, prayer and blessing. Following the religious ceremony, the couple has to sign the marriage certificate, which is then signed by witnesses, and the Marriage Registrar.
The grand event begins with the Wedding Reception. An Indonesian wedding programme is a very important event. Anyone acquainted with the couple may be invited so it is usually a very large gathering, as, even though not many attend the actual ceremony, it is considered rude to not attend the Reception.
There is an elaborate processional into the reception site, decorated by a long chain of flowers. Professional dancers perform traditional Indonesian dances while family and guests await the arrival of the newlyweds. It is customary for the Indonesian bride and groom to greet the guests in a long receiving line before the festivities begin.
As the pictures show, the couple was dressed in the traditional Indonesian wedding garb. The bride was resplendent in gold, with an elaborate headdress, consisting of the crown, which is known as the Sunting, and an intricate arrangement of banana leaves and jasmine. The groom was bedecked in necklaces, his own sunting, and carried an ornamental dagger, which symbolises respect and honor.
Once the formalities were over, everyone got down to the important business of enjoying themselves, and it surely was an unforgettable event for all those who attended it.
By Nazneen Haque Mimi
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