Monday, August 02, 2004

Why Indonesian Marriages Are Both Cumbersome And Beautiful

So last Sunday Donna and I attended the wedding vow recital and ceremony of our dear friends: Lei and Niang. The former event was scheduled at nine AM. We arrived at 9.15 AM sharp because, being Indonesians, we share a very timely sense of tardiness.

Lei and Niang's Muslim wedding was held traditionally. Which means:

  • They had to invite so many people, most of whom they didn't (and probably still don't) even know.

  • They had to wear overpriced dress and suit that restricted their movement the way plaster restricted Egyptian mummies.

  • And there were more lighting and cameramen than in a rock performance.
As the event took place at Masjid Istiqamah, every guests had to take off their shoes and leave them outside, around the same spot that sported this sign:

Hati-hati Kehilangan
(Meaning: Beware theft!)

Talk about jumping on an emotional bandwagon.

Niang... remember the force of light!

At about 9:30, the groom looked ready, bathed in an overlight. Donna and I was so moved by this sight that we looked at each other's eyes.

She said, "I bet he won't be able to feel his legs afterwards."

"True, true...," I nodded emotionally.

Can I Buy a Vow, Please?

For those of you who're not familiar with Muslim wedding vow recital, this is the normal procedure:
  1. The father of the bride will say something like "I wed you, [name of groom, for instance Anonymus Maximus Son of Fictitious Nonexistantus], to my daughter [name of daughter for instance Igothe Longestname Inhistor Yofwedding Daughter of Secon Dlongestname], with the dowry of [list of things, such as a set of shalat equipment and 249,941 rupiahs worth in gold] paid in FULL!"

  2. The groom will interject with "I accept to be wedded with Igothe Longestname Inhistor Yofwedding Daughter of Secon Dlongestname Inhistor Yofwedding with the dowry of a set of shalat equipment and two hundred forty-nine thousand nine hundred forty-one rupiahs worth in gold paid in FULL!"

  3. He has to say that in ONE breath. Otherwise, back to step (1).
This is why many Muslim weddings take a long time. Some still haven't finished since 1911. There's much rejoice and many shedded tears after a successful wedding vow recital. Children who were previously five years old shout, "Finally! We can go outside again! Hey, look Ma! I've grown a beard!" "Good, now it's time for YOU to get married, then." "NOOOOOOOOO!"

We're not worthy! We're not worthy!

After the successful recital, the newlyweds were told to bow as a gesture of gratitude. Donna and I were kind of annoyed that we didn't get that chance in our wedding. I mean, there's no other occassion when you can practically point your butt towards the audience AND get away with it (without having to be a very good stripper, that is).

The Culinary Adventure Called "Wedding Reception"

There's one thing I respect about Indonesian weddings: we celebrate the birth of a new marriage couple by serving food that could clog your arteries to death. I'm not kidding. Observe...

Nothing but fat!

The sign on the above picture says "Nasi Lemak" which literally means "Fatty Rice." We don't lower ourselves by saying "Flavored Rice" or "High Calorie Dish" or any other euphemism. Oh, no... we tell like it is: rice with a whole wad of fat. And the guests don't think twice. They eat it. In BIG portion. If there were a stall with a sign that said, "NOTHING BUT FAT!" Indonesians would've still formed a line for it. And I use the word "line" in a very loose sense. Because a queue in Indonesia would look more like a Roman attack formation.

So anyway, a big hearty congratulation to Lei and Niang. May both of you blessed forever with love... and, for God's sake, stay away from Nasi Lemak.

No comments: