It is said that you can never go a day without a ceremony of some kind on the island of Bali, but wedding ceremonies in Bali are of a different kind altogether. NOVICA recently caught up with the Indonesia region office and silversmith Komang Wijayana, who recently married his wife Dian, for photos of the wedding ceremony and a chance to find out what makes a Balinese wedding so unique and unforgettable.
Weddings are highly significant in Bali
Weddings are considered a very important part of life for the Balinese because they are an implementation of yadnya, or ritual — a way to harmonize the material and the spiritual worlds. The wedding, or pawiwahan, becomes sacred because it is considered to be a testimony before three very important forms of witnesses: the gods, the beings of the underworld, and fellow human beings.
The pawiwahan ceremony is also important because it is not until the completion of the ceremony that the bride and groom are regarded as full citizens of their banjars (villages), with all the rights and obligations thereof.
Finally, the wedding is important because future offspring will continue the Balinese way of life and provide an opportunity for ancestors to reincarnate. Thus, for the bride and groom, the wedding is more than just the union with their spouse — it is as important a life event as it is a spiritual milestone.
Before this milestone can be reached, however, the wedding must be performed in sequence, which, for the Balinese, is determined by a priest according to desa, kala, patra (the right place, the right time, and the right circumstances).
The sequence of a Balinese wedding
First, the groom’s family visits the bride’s family to inform them that the groom wants to marry the bride. The bride confirms that she wants to marry the groom, and her family also consents to the union — all before various community members. The groom then excuses himself to consult with his priest (pedanda) about the best time and place for the wedding.
Next, the groom’s family visits the bride’s family again to bring several gifts and offerings, including food and clothing. At this time, the bride and groom also exchange rings to signify their unity. After this visit, both the bride and the groom seclude themselves in their homes for three days, until the next phase of the wedding ritual.
When it is time to “pick up” the bride, a procession starts at the home of the groom. After praying at the family temple, the groom and his family go to the bride’s house. The procession is usually quite lively, with the groom sometimes carried on a litter and accompanied by his family, spear carriers, and bearers of offerings and gifts. Gamelans, gongs, and pennants complete the procession.
When the group reaches the bride’s residence, she joins him in the procession, which makes its way to the gedong Bethel, or main building. Then, the bride and groom sit together surrounded by their parents for the next part of the wedding.
At this time, the parents of the bride and groom give advice to the new couple. Both the bride’s and the groom’s family also confirm the bride’s status as a new member of the groom’s family. After this ceremony in the public space, the bride and groom are carried back to the groom’s residence an a litter, accompanied by another festive procession.
Once everyone has returned to the groom’s residence, a purification ceremony is performed to cleanse the bride and groom of any negative thoughts and energies. The bride and groom also perform a number of symbolic activities, such as when the groom plunges a dagger into a small piece of pandanus mat held by the bride to signify that she is ready to settle down.
It is also at the groom’s residence that the bride and groom take an oath before a priest and all other witnesses to live together as a family, legitimizing the marriage before the Civil Registry Office of Indonesia.
We wish Komang and Dian a very long and happy life together — you can find all of Komang’s beautiful silver jewelry here.