August 16, 2022  •  7min read

Most Unique Wedding Traditions and Rituals from Around Indonesia

wedding traditions rituals indonesia

A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and will likely be the most important celebration of our lives. Indonesia, as a country that’s rich with cultural diversity and tons of unique traditions, the wedding traditions can greatly vary from one region to another. 

5 Unique Wedding Traditions in Indonesia

The weddings in Java, for example, have very different customs and rituals from weddings in Batak. Today, Indonesians still choose to have traditional wedding ceremonies as they are known to follow their traditions and respect their elders and ancestors. If you’re interested in Indonesia’s different marriage traditions, you’ve come to the right place! We’ll be looking at all the special and unique wedding traditions this country has been performing for generations.

Below is a list of Indonesia’s most unique wedding traditions.

1. The Pingitan Tradition from Java

The pingitan indonesian wedding traditions from Java

The Pingitan or ‘seclusion’ is a wedding tradition from Central Java where the bride is not allowed to leave the house for a certain amount of time. Within this period, they aren’t allowed to see the groom until the ceremony occurs. This tradition is believed to benefit both the bride and the groom, as it is believed to prevent any perils that may strike the bride. In addition, it also helps the groom yearn more for his bride’s presence. 

Towards the wedding’s eve, the bride usually does some self-treatments and preparations for herself. This can include a home spa, drinking herbal beverages, and fasting, which may be accompanied by close relatives, friends or family. In the past, brides could be secluded for as long as two months.

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2. Proposing to the Groom in Minangkabau

Unique indonesia wedding traditions from minangkabau

Minangkabau is a region in the highlands of West Sumatra that performs a unique culture where the bride’s family are the ones proposing to her bridegroom. They must first visit the groom’s family and if they accept the proposal, the two families will exchange heirlooms as gifts that symbolize their new bond. Then, they proceed with the procession by bringing many kinds of food and fruit arrangements.

Many stages and customs take place in a Minangkabau wedding. This starts with Marasek (family meeting), Maminand and Batimband Tando (proposing), Mahanta Siriah (seeking permission) and babako-babaki (bringing gifts or items). This is then followed by Bainai night (nail polishing for the brides), Manjapuik Marapulai (picking up the groom) and welcoming him into the bride’s house, followed by more celebrations after the ceremony.

3. Sinamot in Batak

Sinamot batak wedding traditions in indonesia

Sinamot is a traditional wedding procession in the Batak culture that consists of the negotiation of a marriage dowry. The number of dowries offered depends on the women’s social status, education level and career. For example, a woman with a Master’s degree is considered higher in value compared to a woman with a bachelor’s degree. 

For the groom, education level is a big determination. It’s used as a benchmark for the man to obtain a higher education level as they will be able to support his future family. Therefore, this marriage procession isn’t entirely about materialism but aims to avoid impending failures or divorce after a thorough and costly wedding planning process.

4. Kidnapping the Bride in Lombok

Indonesia wedding in lombok - kidnapping the bride

This is another unique wedding tradition in Indonesia that comes from the Sasak tribe in Lombok. The groom is to abduct the tribe from her family before the wedding. In the past, the tradition was also known as elopement by couples who get married in secret behind their family. Even though the bride’s parents have already approved the marriage, the groom must practice the custom properly as he has to pay a fine if he gets caught.

After being kidnapped, the bride first needs to be living with the groom’s relatives for a while. When the bride doesn’t return home, her parents will then report to the district head. Afterward, the groom must visit her parent’s house and inform them that their daughter has ‘eloped.’ Once the process is over, both families can proceed and discuss the wedding arrangement in detail.

5. Traditional Balinese Wedding

Traditional balinese indonesia wedding

There are several steps in a traditional Balinese ceremony that may differ from year to year. First, the bride and groom’s families must pick the perfect wedding date. This ‘perfect date’ is based on the month and moon and must be chosen by a priest. After selecting the date with the help of a priest, they will need to “Ngekeb,” which is to get the bride ready for the ceremony. This consists of picking the right dress and giving her the total makeover.

After that, the groom needs to “pick up” the bride from her family’s place while bringing baskets. These baskets represent how the couple must compliment each other. Then, a cleansing ceremony known as “Mendengen-dengenan” must be performed. This ceremony symbolizes the cleansing and purifying of both bride and groom of all the sins and mistakes they’ve been through in the past.

Indonesian Wedding Receptions

At most wedding receptions in Indonesia, once arriving, you must first sign the guest book, accept their thank you card or gift and enter the reception hall.

On the way to the reception hall, you’ll find the family members on your left and right, who are usually similarly dressed in traditional or formal outfits. Family members will usually greet you with a smile, nod, or even a handshake.

If you get there on time, you can catch the procession ceremony of the couple in the reception hall. This procession may be pretty impressive depending on the couple’s wealth, social status and ethnic group. Once you’re seated, there are usually speeches where a family representative will thank the crowd for their attendance.After the speeches, guests are invited to eat. Here is the chance where you can try out traditional dishes from different regions as the feast can be greatly diverse. You can find something from the simple yet essential nasi goreng to the more elaborate menu that offers pork chop, dim sum, lamb soup and various western dishes.

Guntur author at Bali Wedding
Guntur has been writing tips and tricks for weddings in Bali since 2020. He has written everything from preparing a pre-wedding in Bali to the best wedding dress and makeup you should choose for a wedding in paradise.

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