Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Wedding: Aceh Style

Saturday 2 July, 2005: Banda Aceh

This is going to be a crazy day. We have our party this evening. I just got back from an Indonesian wedding. Actually, more of a reception. Ayu, Sujata’s assistant, knew the sister of the bride. I felt like I was more at a convention than a wedding ceremony. The reception was in a huge hall. There was a giant stage where the bride and groom were in this little house. The two pairs of parents were in smaller houses to the left and right of the bride and groom. They spent the whole time on the stage. There were periodical dances interrupted with karaoke or people coming to pay their respects. I don’t think I ever saw the bride and groom touch. Both were dressed in traditional wedding costumes. He had the classic Acehenese man’s wedding cap (which I found out that they also wear for their ritual circumcision at age 12!). The bride was beautiful. She truly looked like a china doll. I can see why she didn’t more that much, she had a giant headdress on… I would have been frightened that it would fall off! Interestingly, her bridesmaids were dressed western style blue. And for Aceh, their clothes were quite revealing. Of course, everything is relative. Any other day, the women would only show their hands and face. But here, you could see the lower third of their leg and their arms were bared. They also were not wearing a headcovering. Since this was my first wedding, I don’t know if this was a religious or cultural choice.

I’m glad I went. The food was great and the reception was definitely educational… but I was also surprised. The reception was all pomp and ceremony but no heart. The Acehenese are a passionate people… but this was totally devoid of passion. I felt more like I was at some kind of Indonesian cultural expo. People wandered in and out of the hall… people ate, people left. There were no dining tables set up. Just chairs facing the stage… people got food, sat down, walked around. There was no emotion, no father of the bride dance. In no way was it work, but it was just different.

4 Comments:

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Blogger Khairan said...

Nice blog,Thank you for humanitarian work you've done in Aceh.
Anyway, I am Achenesse myself and would like to explain few things regarding the wedding ceremony.
We ussually differ two occasion on wedding ceremony;
1. The wedding (called "nikah' in bahasa). This is when the couple take wedding oath, witness by parents, relative, close friends and neigbour. It is a small party.In this occasion deep emotion among people is often display. And after that there will be small reception. It ussually take place one day before the formal wedding reception.Actually this is the core process in wedding ceremony.
2. Wedding Reception/party.
This is the occasion you attended.It purpose is to introduce the new couple to community and colleagues. The couple is a new household that will be part of community; having duty and right to our community. The wedding reception is an option.The wedding reception may not be held, depend on families agreement.And it may be sometime after the wedding ceremony (nikah) it self.

Hopefully this will comprehend you beter.

It is the difference that keep the world fascinating. Thanks

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