Indonesian Weddings Give New Meaning to Date Night

November 5, 2014 by | Filed Under: Authentic Experiences, Indonesia, News

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Indonesian weddings can vary greatly from island to island as one would expect given the many different cultures in a country that has thousands of islands and hundreds of languages. Marriage customs can also be based on long-held traditional culture.

In Bali, one type of wedding custom is known as ngerorod, which is basically a very dramatic way to flee from kidnappers. In ngerorod, the consenting bride is “kidnapped” and taken away by the friends of the groom-to-be. She can be working in the field or walking about in the village before suddenly being swept away. Often the woman mockingly fights back kicking and screaming in high theatrics. She is then taken to meet her groom at a location that has been stocked with food, drink, offerings, as well as her bridal outfits.

Playing along with the pretend-kidnapping, the woman’s father sounds an alarm and rounds up a search party. Of course, they are unable to find her and return home tired and disappointed. Meanwhile the bride and groom consummate the marriage before their special offering, called sesayut tabuh rah. This traditional Indonesian wedding offering makes the union binding in the eyes of the Buddhist gods.

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Within a few days the groom must go the father of his bride and discuss the ngerorod and maybe argue why the marriage is beneficial. This will lead to a negotiation of a suitable payment to her father for her hand in marriage. The couple may have a public wedding later but this is merely a formality as the gods have already recognized the union.

Another traditional wedding custom in neighboring Lombok can make dating life a bit more complicated. If a young man is out on a date with his girlfriend and it is getting late, he may feel compelled to get her home unless he wants to marry her. In some parts of the island, if a woman stays out on a date with a man past 10 pm, according to local custom, she and the man involved are considered married. In the coming days, the man’s family will contact the woman’s family telling them what happened and negotiate a price for the bride.

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