Saturday, December 19, 2009

the long awaited day

Yesterday, December 18th, Hanna and Choqi were finally married. Wow, what a day. What a ceremony. What rich, deep, thick cultures and traditions this country has. It was quite unbelievable from start to finish, and although I am still processing through all that went on yesterday, I will attempt to lead you through my experience of a Batak Indonesian wedding.

3:30 AM- Ima wakes me up and the three of us (Hanna's 2 sisters and I) are off to the beauty salon to get our hair and makeup done. We sit in the chairs, three in a row and are transformed by the talented male artists. Ima told my guy that I would prefer to have light makeup...I guess "light" is a relative word. :) I really couldn't stop laughing at myself all day, especially when everyone would comment on how beautiful I looked. Comment freely; I have thick skin.

I'm wearing a shirt borrowed from Hanna's the purple leopard!!!

Below is the inside of the salon.

6:00 AM - Makeovers are finished, we head back to Hanna's house and put on our attire for the day. Most women wear Indonesian traditional clothing called kebaya. This consists of a skirt, tight fitting and stiff tube top which is worn under a sheer long sleeved, heavily bedazzled covering. Fabric is to Indonesian people as hot springs are to the Japanese. Conversations about some type of Indonesian fabric naturally occur at least 5 times a day, with great possibility of happening more frequently when the conversation is in Indonesian and I don't understand it. One of the highlights of the day was viewing the endless variety colors, styles and fabrics of the womens' kebayas.

Hanna's sisters and aunt, looking beautiful in their kebayas.

7:00 AM - We arrive at Hanna's church.
side note on religion: I learned today that there there are only 2 countries which require citizens to declare a religion on their national ID cards, Indonesia being one of them. Religion is a huge part of everyday life here whether the person is Muslim (86%), Christian (9%), Hindu (%2) or other. Hanna's family is deeply rooted by faith in Jesus as is my own family. In contrast with America, however, is the fact that if one nuclear family is Christian, probably all members of the extended family are too. Extended family being defined as everyone who is the same ethnic group and carries the same last name. I was amazed to think that nearly all of the 1,000 attendees of the cultural ceremony (described later) undoubtedly have Christianity as their declared religion. Different, huh?

This "blessing ceremony" was more or less similar to what a Christian wedding is like in the states. The procession, a sermon, exchanging of vows and rings, music..etc. I think music plays a larger role here though, with 4 choir performances, a few solos and performance of a traditional Indonesian instrument similar to marimbas. Between the blessing ceremony, photography, the families meeting each other and breakfast, we were at the church for 3 1/2 hours.

12:30 PM - We arrive at the hall where the Cultural Ceremony will take place. Did I mention that Hanna asked me to be her helper/maid of honor for the day? This title meant that I would ride in a pimp Benz with the bride and groom everywhere we went, directly follow her down the isle and around the stage to arrange her train whenever need be. Let's just say I felt a little more than inadequate since I was the only person in the room who had NO IDEA what was going on all day. Ha!

The above picture show one row of tables of the four total. It's hard to grasp the number of chairs and even harder to imagine who all these people are. The long line of people on the left are all Choqi's relatives. They enter in from the back, each family carrying a platter of food as well as a cylindrical basket of rice on their head to present to the bride's family.

The cultural ceremony was:

long- it started at about 12:30 and we got in cars to go home at 7:00. 6.5 hours, which wouldn't have felt as extended if it weren't so...

loud - imagine Manowar's final performance in NYC and times that by 3 for 6.5 hours. Everyday for the last week, Hanna's family would warn me that the Cultural Ceremony would be loud. I would shrug off their warnings nonchalantly but finally understood what they meant as we walked into the hall. There were 4 men, playing mostly traditional songs, with an occasional Jingle Bells or Deck the Halls slipped in. The problem, however, was the volume. It really was at a level which made conversation arduous. After 6 hours of sitting, trying to talk over the festivities, my throat was aching. I asked and no one knows why it's conducted at such a piercing volume. They just laugh and say it's ridiculous, too.

But, all in all, I'd say it was really a lovely event. It gave me some great insight into just how much the Batak people are centered around family. Blood ties are strong here, regardless whether you actually know them or not. If they are in your blood line, they are your family. Here are a few pics which highlight some of the more important events throughout the afternoon....

Forgive the blurry picture, but this was the climax of the whole ceremony when Hanna's parents presented the couple with an ulos. It's a handmade, expensive scarf thingy which symbolizes the parents acceptance of the groom as their new son.

Coming up on my calendar is...
- the 3rd and final event of Hanna's wedding, a casual reception (although I'm going to the salon again :)
- couchsurfing in an ancient city 7 hours southwest of Jakarta
- Christmas on a volcano!



kelly said...

i don't think i would have even recognized you with the make up! crazy. you are beautiful, with and without :)
enjoy the journey.

Christoph said...

Thank you very much for the great story :) Your make-up reminds me somewhat of the traditional Japanese face whitening :D

Anonymous said...

crazy fun wedding! you're a really good story teller.

imagine what their "normal" makeup would look like. yowzah! it almost looks like you're trying really hard not to bust out laughing :P

Colin "Bus" Franger + Kristin "Tistin" Hamilton said...

Wow. Dang son. You look like a doll. Sounds like an interesting experience. Cultural traditions are a fabric that keep so many people on the same track. Love you much.

lindsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The excellent answer

-----The Goodness Collective---- said...

Hello Lindsey!

I just now read your comment on the GC blog. I am actually in Bend right now and preparing to go to Mexico to work on a film documentary looking at water scarcity.

Enjoy S.E. Asia! Java is intense and Bali is phenomenal.

Thanks for the comment and safe travels!


Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!