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Unveiling the Beauty of Traditional Balinese Weddings

June 12, 2023

Amidst the captivating island of Bali, a vibrant cultural heritage thrives, handed down through generations. The Balinese people have earned renown for their spirited and vibrant ceremonies, and none are more captivating than their traditional weddings. Balinese weddings are a sight to behold, filled with intricate rituals and stunning displays of traditional attire. Every aspect of a Balinese wedding, from the preparation of the bride and groom to the elaborate offerings made to the deities, carries profound meaning and symbolism.

Let us unveil the beauty of the traditional Balinese wedding, exploring the customs, traditions, and cultural significance behind one of the most important days in a Balinese couple’s life. Begin this cultural journey to the heart of Balinese culture, whether you’re passionate about immersing yourself in the culture or you’re eager to experience the magnificence of a traditional wedding.

Bali Weddings Meaning

Marriage holds significant importance in Hindu culture, particularly within descending lineages, as it plays a crucial role in preserving the lineage for future generations. In this context, people consider sons to play an essential role in perpetuating the family lineage.

In Bali, marriage is referred to as “Pewiwahan,” a term originating from the Vedas. The Vedas mention the concept of “Wiwaha Samskara” which emphasizes that marriage is a means of self-purification and a moral duty to be fulfilled by both men and women as husband and wife. Balinese customs and culture deeply root this role, involving various responsibilities.

The traditional Balinese wedding ceremony in Bali, known as the “Manusa Yadnya” ceremony, comprises multiple rituals that culminate in the official union of the couple according to Balinese traditions. However, this ceremonial procession only formalizes the marriage in accordance with customs and traditions.

Following that, the couple solidifies their legal status by acquiring a marriage certificate, a document that both records their marriage and bears witness to it by their families. By acquiring this certificate, the marriage becomes recognized officially according to both cultural customs and prevailing laws.

Traditional Balinese wedding is not just about the couple but also a celebration of family, community, and culture. The wedding ceremony involves the participation of family members, friends, and the entire community. The wedding is also an occasion for showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Bali, the island known as the “Island of the Gods.”

Pre-Wedding Prepare

  1. Mesedek

    This is where the groom’s parents seek permission from the bride’s parents to propose. The parents meet and introduce the groom. This is an important event to gauge the commitment of the groom and assess the behavior of the couple. Success in this event hinges on the bride’s parents giving their consent.

  2. Dewasa Ayu

    After obtaining permission, the next step is to find a “good day” for the wedding. The groom’s parents visit elders or stakeholders to determine a suitable date based on the Balinese calendar. It should avoid major holidays like Galungan and Kuningan. The chosen “auspicious day” is believed to guarantee a marriage that is lasting, harmonious, and prosperous.

  3. Memadik

    Three days before the wedding, on the Mesakapan day, the groom fetches the bride and brings her to his house. Village elders and representatives from both families attend the “Memadik” ceremony. They ask the couple about their readiness for marriage and also seek the bride’s consent. If both agree, the “Memadik” process ceremony is considered successful. Discussions about family lineage and wedding customs take place. The groom’s house becomes the next destination for the bride, where she participates in ceremonial processes in accordance with local customs. A welcoming ceremony takes place at the groom’s residence.

  4. Mapamit

    This involves a visit to the bride’s house and prayers at Sanggah or Family Temple of the bride’s family. The purpose of this ceremony is to bid farewell to the bride’s ancestors and seek the blessings of the groom’s ancestors. It is a ritual process based on the Patrilineal system followed in Bali, where women follow their husbands’ families. The main objective of this ritual is to seek permission from the ancestors to join the husband’s family. During this ceremony, the groom and his family bring traditional food as an offering to the bride’s family. 

balinese wedding day

Source : Unsplash

The Wedding Day: Ceremony and Procession

The day of marriage is called Mesakapan. This is a significant event that usually takes place three days after the Mapamit ceremony. During this day, the bride and groom are officially united as husband and wife through a traditional ceremony conducted by a Sulinggih or village official. Mesakapan symbolizes the bond between the couple, merging them as a unit. 

The ceremony is witnessed both in the skala (Visible realm) and niskala (Spiritual realm) through Banten offerings. The groom and bride actively engage in ritual procedures in accordance with the groom’s customs. Upon successfully completing these rituals, their customs and culture officially recognize them as a married couple.

On this day, participants engage in several ceremonies, including:

  1. Mekala-kalaan: This ceremony is performed to purify the couple from negativity and cleanse their reproductive cells, with the aspiration of having a healthy male child in the future. Additionally, it aims to foster harmony within their household and empower them to address issues internally. The Mekala-kalaan ceremony carries multiple meanings, ultimately expressing well wishes and blessings for the couple’s prosperous and harmonious married life.
  2. Mewidhi Widana: This is the culmination of the ceremonial rituals, signifying the official union of the bride and groom as husband and wife. It is a sacred moment witnessed both in the Niskala (Spiritual realm) and by performing prayers at the groom’s Sanggah or family temple, guided by the Sulinggih or village official. During this procession, the bride and groom offer prayers to their ancestors residing in the family temple, seeking blessings for future generations who will carry forward the ancestral lineage. This significant step aims to receive ancestral blessings, ensuring harmony within the family in the years to come.
  3. Mejauman or Wedding Reception: This is the final step that follows the Mesakapan ceremony, and its purpose is to introduce the bride’s family to the groom’s family. The word “Mejauman” originates from “Jaum,” meaning “Needle,” representing the act of uniting, knitting, and stringing together. This signifies the establishment of a close bond between the two families involved in the marriage. Additionally, friends and extended family members typically gather and partake in the festivities of Mejamuan ceremony.

All above illustrates the traditional wedding rituals and Hindu culture observed in Bali as a whole. While variations may exist in certain villages, the ultimate objective remains the same. It is worth noting that not only Hindus but also foreign tourists adopt this wedding process, aspiring to establish harmonious households in the future.

Balinese Wedding Attire

Source: Unsplash

Traditional Balinese Wedding Attire

Traditional Balinese attire varies based on gender, with distinct fashion styles for Balinese women and men. In recent times, traditional Balinese costumes have evolved to incorporate modern elements, resulting in luxurious and stunning outfits through various modifications and innovative creations. Balinese wedding attire is a significant aspect of the wedding ceremony. The attire is elaborate, colourful, and symbolic, and reflects the rich cultural heritage of Bali.

In Bali, women’s fashion predominantly features the traditional attire known as a “kebaya.” This attire is not exclusive to Bali. It is also a common attire choice across various Indonesian islands, thus serving as a national costume for Indonesian women. The kebaya is a blend of a traditional blouse and dress, crafted from sheer fabrics such as silk, nylon, polyester, or thin cotton.

Kebayas are typically adorned with vibrant colors and embellished with floral patterns or brocade designs. During temple visits or prayer ceremonies, Balinese women often opt for white-colored kebayas, symbolizing purity and sanctity. The kebaya is typically worn together with a sarong called a “Kamen,” which is intricately decorated with batik patterns. To complete the ensemble, tie a shawl around the waist.

Men typically wear simple tops known as ‘Safari’ or ‘Koko.’ Nowadays, men often prefer the ‘Koko’ as it is made from lighter fabrics, providing greater comfort in most situations compared to the thicker material of the ‘Safari.’ However, the ‘Safari’ is still regarded as more prestigious, exuding a sense of dignity and is commonly worn for formal occasions. Similar to women, men also opt for all-white attire when attending temple ceremonies, signifying reverence and purity.

wedding

Source: Unsplash

Conclusion

A traditional Balinese wedding is a magnificent and intricate event that showcases the vibrant cultural legacy of Bali. It encompasses elaborate customs, rituals, vibrant attire, and joyous entertainment. This celebration is a sensory delight and a joyous commemoration of love, family, and community. Whether you have a deep appreciation for culture or seek an extraordinary. And unforgettable wedding experience, a traditional Balinese wedding promises to create cherished memories that will endure forever.

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