Traditional Javanese wedding Ceremonies
The wonderful and mystical sound of Javanese music gamelan instruments accompanies a traditional sacred Panggih or Temu (means meeting) between a beautifully make up bride with her handsome bridegroom in front of a house decorated with "Tarub" plant decoration. The bride with traditionally make up with special gelungan (hairdo), wearing shining brilliant and golden jewelries and special dress for this occasion.
The bridegroom also wears special dress for this ceremony. The couple have to appear in their best, the are treated and honored by those who present in this wedding party as King and Queen of the day. As a traditional rule, the happy party takes place in the house of the bride's parents. The bride's parent are the ones who organize the marriage ceremony. The gate of the house must be decorated with Tarub consist of different Tuwuhan (plants and leaves). Which has symbolic meanings.
2 Banana Trees with stem of ripe bananas meaning:
- The husband could be a good leader of the family in the society.
- As banana trees which could grow well easily everywhere, the pair could also live well and happy everywhere, in good terms within the environment they live.
A cengkir Gading (young yellow coconuts) meaning: The couple loves each other decisively and should always take care of each other.
Different fresh leaves such as of beringin (banyan) mojo-koro, alang-alang, dadap srep, meaning: the couple should grow strongly to protect the family, always be in safety.
On top of this, on the gate must be hung bekletepe, ornaments made from plaited coconut leaves to drive out evil spirits and as a sign that a wedding ceremony takes place in this house.
Before the installation of Tarub and Bekletepe, a special Sajen offerings must be made. It consist among other of: Bananas, coconuts, rice cones, different kind of fruits. Dishes, cookies, different kind of drinks, flowers, jamu (herbal medicine), lantern, buffalo meat, tempe (a kind of tofu) coconut sugar etc. The sajen (offering) has symbolic meaning to get blessings from the ancestors and as a means of protection against evil spirits. The sajen should be placed in several places where the process of ceremonies take place such in the bathroom, kitchen, gate, under the Tarub decoration, in the street nearby the house etc.
A well qualified-expert-Pemaes usually she could lend complete wedding dress, ornaments and equipment necessary for a wedding party. A wedding party should be prepared carefully as it contains a lot of things to do. Usually a small wedding committee consist of close relatives and friends is setup. It depend also to the size of the ceremony, but whatever is the party, a special pattern of wedding procedures must be followed.
The Panggih or Temu manten ceremony (meeting of bride and bridegroom)
At a time set for this occasion, the bridegroom accompanied by his close relatives (but not his parents who are not allowed to present during the ritual traditional ceremony) arrive in the house of the bride's parents and stop in the gate of the house. The bride accompanied by two elderly women on the right and left side walk her out of the bridal room. Her parents and close relatives walk behind her. Preceding the bride are two young girls. PATAH, each bringing a fan. Two elderly women or two young boys bringing two Kembar Mayang, a bouquet ornament, about one meter of height. A women from the bridegroom family walks forward and gives a Sangggan, (a gift in the form of banana fruits and flowers put in a winnowing tray covered with banana leaves) to the mother of the bride, as a sign of appreciation to the hostess of the ceremony.
Kembar Mayang is a kind of bouqet made of different kind of leaves mainly coconut leaves and others stuck into a banana trunk. According to wayang kulit (shadow puppet) story, kembar mayang ornament was the wish of King KRESNA during the marriage between Princess Sembadra and HARJUNA of PANDAWA family. It is indeed a very beautiful decoration with a broad symbolic meaning.
- It has a mountain like shape
A mountain is high and big, symbolizing a man should have a lot of knowledge, experience and patience.
- Keris like ornaments
Depicting the couple's carefulness in life, clever and wise.
- Whips like ornaments
Means the couple should not be easily desperate, must be always optimistic with strong desire to build a good life.
- Umbrellas like ornaments
Means they must be the protector of the family and society.
- Grasshoppers like ornaments
They should be energitic, quick in thinking and taking decisions to safe the family.
- Birds like ornaments
They should have a high life motivation.
- Beringin leaves
The couple should always protect strongly the family and other human beings.
- Kruton Leaves
Meant to protect from evil spirits.
- Dadap srep Leaves
The leaves could be used as a cold compress to lower fever, symbolizing the couple should always have a clear mind and calmness to solve any problems. (calm down the feeling and cool down the head)
- Dlingo Bengle
These herbs could cure infection and other desease, they use to protect from evil spirits.
- PATRA Manggala flowers
Used to beautify the bouquet and against evil deeds.
During the Panggih ceremony, the Kembar Mayang are brought outside the house and thrown out in a crossroad nearby the house, depicting all evil spirits should not disturb the ceremony in the house and its surrounding area. A pair of Kembar Mayang put in the right and left side of the couple's chair during reception as a decoration. Kembar Mayang used only if the couple were unmarried before. The bride then is meeting the bridegroom. The couple approaching each other, when they are about three meters facing each other, they stop to start with Ritual of BALANGAN SURUH, throwing to each other seven small bundles of betel leaves with lime inside tied with white yarn. They do it eagerly and happily and also everyone is smiling happily. According to ancient belief, betel leaves have power to chase away bad spirits. By throwing betel leaves to others, it should be proved that the couple is really the genuine persons not a ghost or other person who pretends to be the bride or the bridegroom.
The Ritual of WIJI DADI
The bridegroom crash a chicken egg with his right foot and then washed by the bride using water mixed with several kinds of flowers. It depicts that the bridegroom is ready to become a responsible father and the bride should faithfully serve her husband.
The Ritual of KACAR KUCUR or TAMPA KAYA
With the help of the Pemaes, the couple walk arm in arm or more precisely holding each other with their little finger to the site of Kacar Kucur or Tampa Kaya ritual in a chair in front of the house's KROBONGAN. It depicts that the husband should give all his income to his wife. The bridegroom gives to the bride some soybeans, peanuts, paddy rice, corns, yellow rice, Dlingo bengle herbs, flowers and coins of different values, the quantity of coins must be even. The bride carefully receives these gifts in a small white cloth, above an old mat which is put on her lap. She should be a good careful housewife.
The Ritual of DAHAR KLIMAH or DAHAR KEMBUL
They are eating together, feeding each other. The Pemaes as a leader of the ceremony gives a plate and a napkin to the bride and yellow rice, side dishes as fried eggs, soybean, tempe, sliced of fried meat (abon) and chicken's liver. The bridegroom makes three small balls of rice and dishes with his right hand. The bride shall eat first and then the bridegroom, after that they drink sweet tea. The ritual depicts the couple should use and enjoy their belongings together. Krobongan or Petanen is a special room located in the centre of Dalem Javanese joglo house, in front of the room stand two wooden statues called Loro Blonyo. This is symbolzing prosperity (kindly click:symbolic meaning of Joglosemar for detail). Nowadays, as many houses have no krobongan room, the place where these rituals conducted is decorated with krobongan like ornaments. The same if this party is held in a hotel or public building,
The bride's parents pick up the parents of the bridegroom in front of the house. They walk together to the place of ceremony. The mothers walk infront, the fathers accompanied from behind. The parents of the bridegroom should be seated in the left side of the couple. The parents of the bride sit in right side of the couple.
The Ritual of SUNGKEMAN
The couple should kneel and asks a blessing from their parents. First to the parents of the bride, then to the parents of the bridegroom. During the SUNGKEMAN, the Pemaes takes out the KERIS from the bridegroom. After the Sungkeman, the bridegroom wears again his KERIS. It should be noted that the couple's parents are wearing the same design of Batik Truntum meaning the couple should always have enough fortune for a living and they are wearing also SINDUR as waist sash. The red drawing in the Sindur with its curved edges would like to say that life is like a river winds thru the mountains. The parents are escorting the newlywed to walk in the real life to build a strong family.
The above rituals are Yogyakarta's pattern. In Surakarta and other regions of Java, there are additional rituals.
After the ritual of Wiji Dadi, the father of the bride leads the couple to walk to the wedding chair in front of the Krobongan, the mother of the bride covers the couple's shoulders with SINDUR. Symbolizing the father shows the way of happiness. While the mother gives a moral support.
Both, the bride and the bridegroom sit on the father's lap and he would say that they have equal weight, that means that he loves them both equally.
The father seats the couple in the wedding chair. It depicts that He has approved the marriage and gives his blessing.
Exchange of wedding rings as a sign of love. Then followed by the rituals of Kacar Kucur and others.
After the wedding rituals are completed, then follows the reception. The newly-wed flanked by their parents should receive blessing and greeting from the guests by shaking hands. In the meantime, one or two Javanese classical dance could be performed. The favorit show is the classical dance of GATOTKACA-PERGIWO a fragment from wayang story or more modern classical style dance KARONSIH, both are love dance. While all the guests are enjoying the party by tasting lunch or diner offered, the sound of gamelan music echoes beautifully thru the reception hall. The wedding ceremony ends safely and satisfactorily and everyone is happy.
Today, for practical reason, many wedding receptions are held in the banquet halls of hotels on convention halls, beautiful decorated for the specialist event. The traditional ritual ceremonies attended only by families, close relatives & friends of the bride and groom. The reception is a party, where lunch or dinner is served after the invitees have congratulated the newly wed couples, flanked by they parents.
Before congratulation, where many guests are already in the party hall, there is a bridal procession entering the hall. Accompanied by live gamelan music, a master of ceremony announces that the bride and the groom are entering the hall. The procession is led by cucuk lampah - a man in Javanese costume walks rhythmically toward the chairs where the newly wed couples are going to be seated in front of the "Krobongan - Style" decoration . Behind him are two Patah - little girls specially dressed, who are going to sit in the right and left side of the newly wed couple. Followed by some dancers in their marvelous costumes, they are going to entertain everybody attending the party with their traditional dancers.
Then, the newly wed couple, walk hand-in-hand in their most elegant appearance as the queen and the king of the day. They are flanked by two elderly ladies, holding their hands. Followed by their mothers and then their fathers. In the last row are the sisters and sisters-in-law and the brothers and brothers-in-low of the bride and the groom.
With tender magical gamelan music accompaniment, the MC in a soft and magnetic voice makes some comments of the procession with poetic refined Javanese words. The bride and the groom are seated on the disignated chairs, flanked by the Patah and the parents of both side. The reception begins amidst a happy atmosphere. In a bridal procession in the Royal Palace/Karaton of Yogyakarta and Surakarta, there is an additional attraction. The joyful and jokingly appearance by a group called "edan-edanan" (edan means crazy), consist of same dwarfs with glorying dresses and make-up, dancing, wildly, laughing moisely accompanied by a load and quick rhythm of gamelan. This attraction symbolizes…….
THE PREPARATION OF A WEDDING CEREMONY
A sincere and mutual love between a woman and a man should end in marriage. In places like Java, the marriage occurred due to the decision by a loving couple. This is a matter of principle since the ancient time. It could hoppened due to the wish of their parents. A Javanese proverb says: "'Tresno jalaran saka kulino" means "love grows when you are get used to each other". Up to now, a Javanese always stays close to the family. Family solidarity is of prime important. The loving couple should inform their parents accordingly and several steps should be taken to prepare the wedding.
The parents of the man (would be bridegroom) should send an envoy or envoys to the parents of the woman (would be bride), proposing that their son is willing to marry their daughter. Nowadays, for practical reason, the parents of both sides could talk directly. The parents of the couple should approved the planned marriage. They should fix convenient and good days of wedding procedures which must be followed such as Peningsetan (traditional engagement), Siraman (holy bathing), Midodaremi (ceremony in the eve of the wedding day), the Panggih and other traditional rituals.
Usually, the parents of the would be bride have a greater say as they are the ones who organize the ceremony. It should be decided also what kind of marriage pattern is chosen, among other Paes Ageng (great make up) or Kesatrian (knight's make up which is simpler). Every marriage pattern differs in make up and dresses for the bride and bridegroom.
It should be decided also what kind of dresses the parents should wear, what kind of Batik pattern and shirt/coat design, which color etc.
The Pemaes and the wedding committee
A complete traditional Javanese wedding ceremony is involving several kind of activities. One of the most important things is the ritual. In that case, service of a Pemaes is of top priority. There are a lot of Pemaes, but favorite Pemaes, they have also a tight schedule. It must be made sure the engagement of a Pemaes long time before the wedding. She should be entrusted to make up the bride and bridegroom and dress them properly, she should take care the ritual offerings and lead the ritual ceremonies.
A small committee consisting of close relatives and friends from both families is set up. The size depends to the size of the party, how many guests should be invited,300, 500, 1000 or more guests. In fact a wedding ceremony is a big show. Really the committee should work hard on voluntarily basis. The most important thing here is the execution of IJAB, the religious and civil registration, which should legalize the wed couple as legitimate husband and wife before the law. The committee should appoint people in charge of different jobs such as: protocol, food and beverage, art performance of the gamelan music group and the dance, setting up the reception hall complete with decoration, the appointment of master of ceremony, the appointment of some elder distinguish women to do the siraman (holy bathing), the appointment of who should be witnesses for IJAB, the appointment of who should deliver the welcome speech during reception, the appointment of who should be responsible for transportation, communication and security matters etc. This is the manifestation of the spirit of Gotong Royong/ Mutual Cooperation.
Peningsetan derives from the word singset means to tie up. It is commitment that a marriage should be implemented, the families of both sides have agreed. The parents should become "in-laws". On the peningsetan occasion, the family of the would be bridegroom visit the parents and the family of the would be bride. They are bringing some gifts as follow:
- A set of Suruh Ayu (Suruh: betel leaf, Ayu: beautiful), betel leaves with the necessary supplement, wishing for a safety.
- Several Batik cloths with different patterns, wishing happiness and the best things in life such as the patterns of sidoluhur, sidomukti etc. (please click article of Batik)
- Materials for KEBAYA (women shirts)
- White waist sash for women as a sign of a strong willingness.
- Some fruits, wishing a good health.
- Rice, sugar, salt, cooking oil etc symbolizing the basic foodstuffs need in life.
- A set of ring for the couple.
- Some money, a contribution for the wedding ceremony.
Usually one day before the wedding party, the gate of the bride's parents should be decorated with Tarub as has been described above.
Siraman means to take a bath. The Siraman in the wedding ritual is meant to clean the couple to become clean, their bodies as well as their souls. The Siraman ceremony usually should be organized one day prior to the IJAB and Panggih rituals, in the afternoon. Siraman of the would be bride should be conducted in her parents' residence as for the would be bridegroom in his parents house.
For this ritual some preparations have to be made, such as:
- The place of the Siraman, in the family bathroom or in a place specially designed for the purpose. Nowadays the second alternative is more common.
- The lists of persons who should bath the couple. Instead of the parents, some elderly distinguished women should be invited among other their grand mothers. They are selected due to their good moral behavior. The numbers are limited usually to seven. Seven in Javanese is PITU, so they should give PITULUNGAN means help.
- Items which must be prepared.
- A big bowl for water, usually made of copper or bronze.
- Water from a well or spring
- Setaman flowers, consist of rose, yasmin, magnolia, cananga, to be put in the water.
- Wet powder-five colours, should function like a soap.
- Traditional shampoo and conditioner such as ash of rice straw, coconut milk and tamarind juice.
- 2 coconuts, tied up together
- a small chair, covered with:
Several kind of plant leaves
Dlingo Bengle herbs
Bango tulak cloths (4 patterns) against evil deed.
Lurik woven pabrics with design YUYU SEKANDANG and PULA WATU.
- White cotton cloth to be wear during siraman
- Batik cloth of Grompol and NAGASARI design
- Kendi - earthenware flask with a neck and spout.
- Gayung - a water dipper.
- Sajen / offering for SIRAMAN
Traditionally sajen/offering in Javanese ritual is considered very important. It has a deep symbolic meaning, in short:
- Requesting protection from God, the Creator
- Remembering the ancestors, so their souls live in peace in eternal world and hopefully got a blessing from them.
- Avoiding evil deeds from spirit and human being.
- The ritual should be safe and successful.
- Siraman's sajen among other consist of:
- Tumpeng ROBYONG; a decorated Robyong rice cone, with the wish to be in safety.
- Tumpeng GUNDUL; rice cone with no decoration.
- Cold food
- Bananas and other fruits
- A chicken egg
- A Peeled coconut
- Coconut sugar
- A latern
- Telon flowers (cananga, yasmin, magnolia)
- Seven kinds of porridge
- Sweet cookies
- Cookies made of glutinous rice
- A cock
The execution of SIRAMAN
- The would be bride/bridegroom, with hair hung loosely picked up from her/his room by the parents. She/he is escorted to the place of siraman. Some people bring a tray of batik cloths, towels etc walk behind them. These things should be used after the siraman.
- He/she should be seated on the chair.
- A prayer is offered
- The first person to bath her/him is the father and then the mother, countinued by others in the list.
- The last person to bath her/him is the Pemaes or a special elder person assigned. She should use the traditional shampo, powder etc to clean her/him. He/she should sit, with both hands in front of the chest in praying position. The Pemaes pours water from Kendi to their hands and they use it to rinse the mouth three times. The Pemaes pours to their head, face, ears, neck, hands and feet three times each.
- When the Kendi is empty, the Pemaes or person assigned should break the kendi on the floor saying: Wis Pecah Pamore' - meaning that he/she is handsome (beautiful, now is a grown-up) (ready to get married).
- He/she should wear the batik cloth of Grompol design and cover the body with Nagasari batik cloth.
- He/she should be escorted back to the wedding room.
After the Siraman. The bride sits in the wedding room. The Pemaes should dry her hair by using towel and smoke of perfumed powder (RATUS) should be passed her hair. When the hair is drying, it is combed backside and strongly tied up in gelung hairdo style. The Pemaes cleans her face and neck and start to make up. Ngerik means to save unnessarary hairs on her face by using a Razor.
Sajen/ offering for NGERIK
The sajen for Ngerik is the same with the sajen for Siraman. For pratical reason all sajen for siraman brought to the wedding room and function as the offering for NGERIK RITUAL.
The execution of NGERIK
The Pemaes should carefully and skilfully doing her make up of the bride. The face should be make up in accordance with the marriage pattern. At the end, the bride should be dressed with Kebaya (woman shirt) and Batik cloth with design of SIDOMUKTI or SIDOASIH symbolizing, she would have a prosperous life and adored by other people.
This ceremony takes place in the eve of IJAB and Panggih ceremonies. Midodaremi is derived from the word Widodari means goddess. The would be bride this evening is becoming very beautiful like a goddess, she should be visited by some goddesses from heaven according to ancient belief. She has to stay in the room the whole evening from 6.00 p.m. to midnight accompanied by some elder women giving her useful advice. The family of the would be bridegroom and her very close friends should also visit her for a while, all of them are women.
The bride's parents should feed her for the last time. As from tomorrow, she is in her husband's responsibility.
Sajen/offering for MIDODARENI
- Rice cooked with coconut milk
- Well cooked cock (INGKUNG)
- Vegetable sauces
- Telon flowers
- Tea and coffee without sugar
- Drink from young coconut meat with coconut sugar
- Latern which is lighted
- Bananas of Raja (king) variety
- Flowers in water bowl
- A baked glutinous rice, bread
- Cigar and pipe made of papaya leave
Items put in the wedding room
- One set of Kembar Mayang
- 2 earthenware vases filled with spices, medical herbs, rice, peanuts etc covered with Bango Tulak cloths.
- 2 Kendis filled with holy water covered with dadap srep leave.
- UKUB- a tray with several kinds of perfumed leaves and flowers put under the bed.
- Suruh Ayu- betel leaves with its supplement.
- Areca nut.
- Seven kinds of cloth with letrek design.
Ceremonies outside the wedding room
Outside the room, there are the parents and the family or close friends of the would be bride meeting with the family of the would be bridegroom, eating and speaking to each other. Nowadays for practical reason, during the midodareni, other rituals could be conducted at the same time, such as:
Peningsetan or SRAH-SRAHAN
The family of the would be bridegroom gives some items to the parents of the would be bride (see Peningsetan Ritual). In this occasion both sides of families should make acquintance to each other in a more relax atmosphere. Then the family of the would be bridegroom (only women) visit the would be bride in the attractively decorated wedding room.
In fact the would be bridegroom come together with his family, but he is not entitled to enter the house. While his family is inside the house, he sits in the veranda of the house accompanied by some friends or relatives. During that time he is only given a glass of water, and he is not allowed to smoke. He may eat only after midnight. It is a lesson that he must be able to resist hunger and temptation. Before his family left the house, an envoy of his parents tells the host and the hostess that he hands over the would be bridegroom to the responsibility of the host and the hostess, the envoy further says that the would be bridegroom is not going back home. After the visitors left the house, the would be bridegroom is allowed to enter the house but not the wedding room. The parents of the would be bride should arrange his lodging. This called Nyantri. Nyantri is done on purpose for safety and practical reason, considering that tomorrow he should be dressed and prepared for Ijab and other wedding ceremonies.
IJAB Ceremony As it has been described above, Ijab ceremony is the most important requirement to legalize a marriage. The implementation of Ijab is in accordance with the religion of the couple. Nowadays, the state recognizes five existing religions: ISLAM, CHRISTIAN and CATHOLIC, HINDU, BUDHA. Whatever religion they confess, they are wearing traditional dresses. In the place where the IJAB is conducted, a sanggan offering put there. After the IJAB, traditional ceremonies of panggih etc and a reception should follow to complete the whole wedding ceremonies.
The Art of Javanese Traditional Wedding
In Java people oftenly says that birth, marriage and death are the wish of God. It is easily understood that wedding rituals should be implemented accordingly. It grows to be an exhibition of traditional art and culture, an integral part of the Nation's Identity. Where the noble symbols of life exposed with pride and dignity.
This great tradition, inherited from ancient time, strongly preserved by the people. The Javanese selectively embraces modernazition but the root of tradition remains. The existance of Palaces/Karatons in Yogyakarta and Surakarta, as centers of art and culture plays a positive role. The most significant is the people's sincere care to conserve its own culture.
The hard work and determination to maintain traditional culture by the Karatons, related experts and all parties concern have flourished the culture in the pleasant direction. Some consistent efforts have to be made to improve the favourable trend.
Popularity of Javanese traditional wedding ceremony
In 1960's, some Pemaes had started to popularize this traditional wedding ceremony outside the Karaton ring. With the silent blessing of the Karaton, the four EMPU (great Guru) Pemaes from the Yogyakarta court families, namely:
The late Mrs. PRADJOKOHALPITO, the late Mrs. DONOLOBO, the late Mrs. SOSRONEGORO and Mrs. SARDJONO YOSODIPURO formed the first Association of Pemaes P.P. 16 to introduce and spread the art of traditional bridal make up and wedding ceremonies to the society outside the Karaton wall. They also improved their expertise by learning and adopting the pattern from Surakarta palaces.
The four EMPU Pemaes had their own forum of communication by the name of HASTANATA to intensify the spreading of this art. Although they are great artists but they worked untiredly and travelled a lot across the territory in different towns and villages by any means of transportation such as traditional becak (pedicab) or andong (four wheeled carriage drown by a horse) or public transport such as buses and trains. The private cars were rare and aeroplane was too luxurious for the early years of the pioneers. Mean while in Surakarta, Mrs. Dinar Woerjanto did almost the same. She and a few other Pemaes spread this art of classical bridal make up to every strata of society in different places. Along with the economic progress of the country, their fight gave a tremendous result in the art and culture and business related with wedding ceremonies, such as in the fields of:
- Sajen/offering made and flower arrangements
- Dresses, batik, keris, jewelries , ornaments and other items used in a wedding party
- Food and beverages (catering)
- Performing arts; gamelan music orchestra and classical dance
- The service of photography (lately) video shooting and sound system.
- Renting of public and hotel halls for wedding reception
- Renting of tent, furniture, carpets and special decorated cars for the married couple etc.
- The service of Masters Ceremonies
- The service of some assistants to Pemaes. (in a complete ceremonies a Pemaes should not be able to work by her self)
Needless to say that as a result of their tremendous achievement by practising their profession with utmost devotion, in many places and occassions, in remote villages, different cities and in also in Karatop
A complete Javanese wedding ceremony has several complicated traditional rituals. In that event, the role of a Pemaes, a traditional make up woman who should lead the complete set of the whole ceremonies is very important. She would take care of the make up and dressings of the bride and bridegroom, different kind of offerings, different kind of ceremonies during the event etc.