Balinese Wedding Bells

In our new wedding sarongs, outside the family house

(Alex and Emma) Today all six of us are wearing new sarongs and sashes for a traditional Balinese wedding. We had asked our driver, Wayan, to bring us to places not too many tourists have been, and he offered to bring us with him to a wedding in his village. The ceremony this morning is at the groom’s family’s house; this afternoon there will be a similar ceremony in the bride’s village.

Walking down the street towards the groom’s house, we almost ask Wayan in which family compound the ceremony will take place. As soon as we turn the corner, we don’t need to ask anymore. Ahead of us are two, huge, very colorful decorations in front of and on top of one entrance gate. Walking in, the first thing that catches our eye are all the women rushing around. They are serving guests, placing offerings everywhere and making sure that everything is perfect for the 10 AM wedding. Colorfully dressed in sarongs, lace tops and ceremonial sashes, the women keep moving, unlike most of the men who just sit around relaxing. The whole courtyard smells of burning incense as offerings to the Hindu gods. The colors are extraordinary; not one area is left untouched. On the bale dangin (the open pavilion where the ceremony takes place), there are two cakes 5-feet tall. One is very colorful and made of sweet rice dough that has been carefully dyed and shaped into special characters.

The cake made 100% from pig

The other is a pig cake; literally a cake made out of a pig. The head is the centerpiece. Sticks of satay and pieces of meat and fat adorn the structure. There are flies all over it. Apparently it is a very lucky offering and very, very hard to make; we just think it’s gross.

Sitting inconspicuously in the back, we can barely see the priest, but it doesn’t matter; we are there for the experience. Traditional Balinese music is being played by a gamelan orchestra of gongs, drums, gangsas (large metalaphones) and bamboo flutes. All the guests are socializing. Dancers with masks entertain. The women server the family men and the local priests all dressed in white. A small bell rings, more incense is lit, and the anticipation builds. Finally at 10:45, the bride and groom walk into the courtyard wearing their full traditional regalia. The bride looks gorgeous in her one foot tall golden crown. Her husband looks like a woman with his golden crown and too much make-up. It is a short ceremony, consisting of many prayers, burning incense, a cracked egg and the purification of their minds and hands. As a family, they walk to the back of the compound to honor their ancestors in the family temple.

We enjoyed the ceremony and its traditional aspects, but we might have appreciated it more if we actually understood Balinese!

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4 Responses to “Balinese Wedding Bells”

  1. Wow! Bali… your feet are just running so fast… Ours are now pretty cold. Yeah, we got back in the cold Quebec winter 1 month ago. Back in our old house, old job, old friends, to start a new part of our life. Just as you’re gonna do soon. It’s a strange feeling… Like we just jumped 2 years ahead in our life without noticing. Like Ecuador was a different life. Except that we have a little Alexe running between our legs. Except that something in us has definitly changed.
    Alexe is doing pretty good in all the adaptation stuff. She even wants to dress up to go outside… wow. And she’s preparing herself to become a big sister. A little surprise we brought back from Galapagos.
    We’ll continue following you’re adventures, so we can keep moving while we’re trying to fit in a «stable» life. Take care of you 6.
    Lisandre and Alexe

  2. Marie & Peter Butler 04. Feb, 2011 at 2:53 am

    Greetings to you all. We’ve been following your trip since leaving the KK. Today is our last day in Bali. Walking back from a Balinese dance performance last night we ran into Andrea from the Quark staff on the KK. Small world! She is travelling here with a friend from Australia.
    How lucky you were to attend a Balinese wedding. We consider ourselves fortunate to have had great sightings of Komodo dragons on Kalimatan (Borneo). Hope Greg continues to recover and that you all stay well. We’ll be back in snowy Marblehead in one week. Brrrrrrrrr!
    Marie & Peter

  3. Miss everyone a lot. Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone…..especially the birthday young lady!!!!!!!!!! It seems as if it was just yesterday that I got a call from Dad that Alex had just arrived!!!! How exciting it was to see my very first grandchild, and each and every special one that followed. Hope that you do someting exciting on your special day. Clancey and Cameron have valentines for you, but they can give them to you with a special hug this summer. Nothing exciting in PA except snow and more snow…..but no penguins to be seen here. The swim of Dana with penguins in the background is one of my favorites. Hopefully, Greg’s leg is coming along well in the recovery process.
    Super Bowl nite sans Eagles and!
    Take care…..I care….be careful!!!!
    xoxox bibi

  4. One long hair and one no hair twin….people having too much trouble telling you apart?