One that cannot be missed from Bali’s exquisite natural world charm, is the traditional wedding ceremony.
Unlike the other wedding procession that we know, Balinese wedding has so much steps, from the preparation until the ceremony. To Balinese, marriage is an important moment in Bali because after married, the couples will have the full status in the community. They will be prioritized and obtain the rights to make a participation in social-culture life.
Basically, marriage, known as “pawiwahan“, is the legalization of two people, a man and a woman, in the form of religious ceremonies, making sacred promises to get married and legalizing the marriage ties, by religious and social norms. Marriage in Bali is very closely related to local religious, cultural and cultural arrangements.
Almost all the procedures in Balinese marriage, especially those who are Hindus, are the same based on culture and religious law, but sometimes there are some differences based on customs and culture in each place or region.
Marriage in Bali consists of several stages that must be passed by the bride and the groom. After all these processes are passed then the couple are legal as husband and wife in the eyes of religion, law and society.
The Marriage Procedure in Bali
Balinese adheres the patrilineal marriage system, in which the community regulates the inheritance rights based on the father or male descendants, while the woman is released from her family.
Balinese marriage is sacred, through a process of sacred religious ceremonies. They will prepare everything from the beginning including the selection of good days, so that the wedding ceremony will run smoothly and after that, the husband and wife could live a new life with joy.
These are the procedures for traditional marriage in Bali;
Finding the “good day”
The host, who will conduct this wedding ceremony, together with a priest will choose a good day in accordance to the Hindu calendar. A good day is chosen starting from the prospective bridegroom coming to tease (notify) and the day of getting married according to the day agreed by both parties of the family. The Balinese believed that selection of a good day will affect the smoothness of the ceremony and also their lives as husband and wife when they get married later.
The ngekeb ceremony process is to prepare the brides-to-be, to do a body scrubs with these ingredients; rice, turmeric, cananga flower and peacock leaves. This preparation is to welcome the groom-to-be the next day.
The bride will enter the room, and it is not allowed to leave the room until the bridegroom and his family come to pick her up. The Ngekeb ceremony aims to prepare the mentality of the bride and groom and pray to God to be blessed with physical and spiritual happiness.
Picking up the Bride
Since the traditional wedding commonly done at the residence of the male family, the bridegroom’s family has to “pick-up” the bride. When the time comes, the bride is ready to wear Balinese traditional clothes covered with a thin yellow cloth from head to toe, the clothes contains the philosophy that the bride is ready to leave her bachelor, burying her past for the process of welcoming a new life, i.e. married life.
The next step is Mungkah Lawang (which is could be translated as “open the door”). The groom and his family came to knock on the door of the bride, accompanied by Balinese traditional gamelan songs which signalled the arrival of the man, asking to open the door. And then the bride-to-be is brought to the bridegroom’s residence without the female family being followed.
Before entering the groom’s house, the bride and groom face the Mesegeh Agung procession. The yellow cloth covering the bride’s body will be opened by her future mother-in-law, a sign of welcoming the new world and burying all the past, and also as an expression of welcome to the bride.
This procession will be led by a religious leader such as a priest, in accordance with the customs and culture of each region, this ceremony aims to cleanse the bride and groom accompanied by a number of processions;
– Touching the Feet to Kala Sepetan
The ceremony was requested to purify and cleanse the bride and groom. The groom bears the stern while the bride carries the basket of trade, then walk around three times. After that, the groom and bride will have to touch their feet to Kala Sepetan.
– Buy and sell
The basket carried by the bride-to-be will then be purchased by the bride-to-be. This is an analogy of married life that must complete each other, give and fill, and then obtain desired goals together.
– Poke the pandan leaves (Tikeh Dadakan)
The bride is ready to hold woven mats made from young pandan leaves (tikeh dadakan). While the bridegroom holds the keris (a traditional small sword in Bali), ready to unsheathe the pandan leaves with his keris. According to Hindu beliefs, the pandan leaves held by the bride-to-be symbolizes the power of Sang Hyang Pradana (vulva strength), and the keris held by the groom symbolizes Sang Hyang Purusa (phallus strength).
– Breaking the Yarn
Before breaking the yarn, the bride and groom will have to plant turmeric, and taro right behind the merajan or sanggah (place of prayer for the family), as a form of perpetuating the adoptive family. After that, they will break the yarn that stretches on the branch of dadap leaves which analogizes that the bride and groom are ready to give up adolescence to begin family life.
Mewidhi Widana Ceremony
Mewidhi Widana is a procession which led by a priest or sulinggih with the clapper, cleaning the bride and groom after the previous ceremonies. Together they will wear traditional Balinese costume wedding. At this time both of them headed to the sanggah or temple in the yard of the house, notifying the presence of a new family to the ancestors, asking for permission and blessing so that both of their family life is preserved, and hoping to have blessed children in the future.
Mejamuan means welcoming the guest. This is the last procession in a traditional wedding ceremony in Bali, at this time also synonymous with “ngabe tipat bantal” or carrying a pillow tip, some areas call it as “meserah” ceremony.
After a few days, the woman who follows her husband comes back to her family accompanied by the relatives and neighbours of the male family. Then they will do a “mepamit” (asking permission to leave) ceremony in sanggah or merajan, to the ancestors of a woman’s family. At that time, the arrival of the male family also brought traditional snacks which were the tipat (rice cake) and pillows along with other snacks such as red and white steamed sticky rice and some other traditional cakes.
The point above is the Balinese traditional wedding procession that should be done by the bride and groom’s family, but as time goes by, modernization comes. Some ceremonies like ngekeb or mungkah lawing has not been done anymore. But other procession is stays the same.
But there are some other rituals that you also need to know in some cases. Here are the followings;
This marriage is based on the love of the bride and groom, but for several reasons, for example not approved or approved by one or both families, one or both parties do not have relatives, or with consideration for cost efficiency.
This tradition meaning is the groom has to “move” to the bride family. Since the Balinese family commonly adopt the patrilineal system, but the bride family doesn’t have a man to be the heir, if the groom family has another successor in his family, the bride family could ask for a permission to take the groom to put him in the family. The wedding ceremony is held at the residence of a woman’s family.
The Gelah Bareng
This system adopts both matrilineal and patrilineal system which in this marriage system both female and male families have the same rights, have the same obligations, so the traditional wedding ceremony is held in both places in turn.
Balinese traditional marriages are very much coloured by the glorification of God the creator, all stages of the marriage are carried out in the groom’s house, because the Balinese people apply a patriarchal system, so that in carrying out the wedding ceremony all costs incurred for the celebration are the responsibility of the male family. this is different from the Javanese wedding custom, which is all done in the bride’s house. The bride will be escorted back to her home to ask permission from parents to be able to live with her husband a few days after the wedding ceremony.
Alright that’s a series of Balinese traditional wedding processions. Even though it looks complicated, but actually it is full of meaning, so it is still mostly done by the Balinese people. If your partner is from Bali, even though it is complicated, you should still carry on the tradition. It is a pity if this tradition which full of meaning is abandoned or disappears.