Indonesia comprises of more than 17,000 islands, over 300 ethnic groups, and six official religions. This contributes to cultural diversity in Indonesia which can be seen from many aspects of life including wedding tradition. Wedding celebrations in Indonesia vary depending on the ethnic group and religion of the bride and the groom. Therefore, within one ethnic group may have different wedding tradition if the religion is different.

In Indonesia, marriage symbolizes the sacred bond between two individuals. In fact, it is also considered as not only a union of two individuals but also two families. Marriage as defined by the Indonesian Marriage Law is physical and spiritual bond between a man and a woman as husband and wife. This definition reflects that Indonesian people’s view of marriage is not only a matter of physical bond but also a spiritual connection. In addition, the purpose of marriage is to establish a happy and lasting family. Therefore, wedding tradition is considered as a very important life event in Indonesia.

Although wedding celebrations in Indonesia vary from one another, in general Indonesian wedding is celebrated with colorful decorations, beautiful costumes, great cuisines, and of course extraordinary rituals. This article will give you a glimpse into one of the most extraordinary Indonesian weddings, the wedding tradition of Betawi people or known as the native of Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia.

One thing that is necessary in a traditional Betawi wedding ceremony is the sweetened bread which is shaped to resemble a crocodile known as Roti Buaya (Roti means bread, Buaya means crocodile). Its size is usually 50 cm long, although it may vary depending on personal preference. The groom is required to bring a pair of Roti Buaya as one of the gifts given by the groom to the bride during the seserahan which is the part of marriage proposal ceremony. After the event is finished, the bread is distributed to the family members and eaten together. But why is it shaped as crocodile? Apparently, crocodile is believed to symbolize loyalty or fidelity. Despite its scary looking, crocodile is faithful to its partner and has a high level of patience.

Traditional Betawi Wedding is not complete without the Palang Pintu tradition. This event displays the mix of Betawi traditional martial art or known as Silat and Pantun (witty poetry). At Palang Pintu event, the groom’s entourage is blocked from entering the bride’s house. The groom’s entourage must be able to fulfill the requirements given by the bride’s side. They will engage in mock fighting in which the groom’s representative must win, so that they can enter the bride’s house. This event symbolizes the groom’s ability to protect the bride.

Betawi wedding dress is the result of the combination of different ethnic groups. The groom’s wedding outfit is influenced by Arab culture. On the other hand, the bride’s dress is influenced by Chinese culture. The bride is wearing kebaya, a shining chest-piece and a beautiful headdress which is made of beads. Also, a part of the headdress is a decorated string of jasmine garland. The groom and the bride will absolutely look stunning wearing these amazing traditional outfits!


By Nishrin Azzely QOWAMUNA, ASEAN Correspondent from Indonesia