Friday, August 26, 2011

a village wedding


a village wedding,
filled with symbolic ceremonies,
chanting, people, food

Up early. We head down the road to a little shop for breakfast: rice, coconut and boiled bananas wrapped in a banana leaf, and a dirty thermos of boiled water for tea. Next we stop at a small boutique to find a ceremonial sash for me to wear to a wedding, but everyone has already left. Robin borrows a sash and we head over to the next street, stopping to buy coffee and sugar as a gift. A group of young men are sitting and smoking outside the compound where the wedding has already started. Inside the gate there is a table with sweets and soft drinks. A group of women are sitting in pink plastic chairs around the bale gede, which is full of elaborate towering offerings. The couple is being put through various symbolic rituals, all involving fertility. He carries a coconut with a protruding sprout, both of them pushing through a flimsy pole and string barrier, he offers her something hard (a metal piston ring), she offers him something soft (a towel), both of them sit on a small woven banana leaf on top of a coconut three times. The priest has the couple, seated on a cloth on the ground, wash their hands and drink water, and pours earth on them through a woven funnel. In between ceremonies, the priest, Mangku Liyer, comes over to meet me. He is a charming, wiry, snaggle-toothed older man who invites me to his home even before Robin introduces us. She says they are partners in catching babies. He speaks English fairly well. The hostess, dressed in a lovely pastel kamben and kebaya, invites us to join 40 or 50 people at the buffet in the rear, served on wicker plates topped with waxed brown paper instead of banana leaves. The main dish is whole roast pig. I just eat rice because everything else is meat or spicy or both. Suddenly everyone gets up and says goodbye to the hostess. These are the bride's family, the guests. Then the groom's family gets to eat. When we return, Mangku Liyer is doing puja with the couple on the bale gede. They are seated with two women kneeling behind them to support them, the parents also sitting on the platform. Mangku Liyer brushes them with a whisk and makes numerous offerings at the altar. Then they move to the family shrine for more chanting. The festivities are still going on when we leave, but the hostess takes time to give Robin some food to take home.

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