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BALINESE WEDDING CEREMONY IS A SERIES OF HINDU MARRIAGE CEREMONIES BASED ON LOCAL CULTURE AND TRADITIONS, WHICH ARE CARRIED OUT THROUGH SEVERAL STEPS OF THE WEDDING PROCESSION

Balinese Wedding Ceremony is a series of marriage processions that follow the customs of traditional Balinese culture. The ceremony is led by a Brahmin priest or village priest, in accordance with the cultural norms and customs of the place where the wedding takes place. Balinese weddings are considered very sacred and involve the participation of several villagers in the execution. The preparation of the wedding ceremony is the busy work of the family, who prepare everything related to this wedding ceremony. Balinese wedding Ceremony is a unique in that it follows Balinese Hindu rituals, where the couple is formalised as husband and wife in the spirit realm. Banten wedding facilities are prepared in advance to facilitate the execution of this ceremony. Therefore, a wedding in Bali is considered a very sacred moment. Many Westerners choose Bali as a wedding location because it has an exotic atmosphere and is rich in romance, mysticism, and cultural uniqueness. Getting married to a loved one in Bali is considered a special occasion that gives a deep impression throughout life.

All You Need To Know About Balinese Wedding Ceremony

  • Balinese Wedding Meaning
  • Balinese Wedding Important To Society
  • Balinese Hindu Wedding Traditional Process
  • Balinese Hindu Wedding Style
  • Balinese Wedding Different Caste

Balinese Wedding Meaning

Marriage is considered a very important obligation in passing down the lineage for Hindus, focusing on the role of sons in carrying the family legacy forward. The Balinese wedding ceremony, referred to as “Pewiwahan”, takes inspiration from the Vedas which mention the word “Wiwaha Samskara”. This concept depicts marriage as a form of self-purification and dharma to be undertaken by the husband and wife which requires them to fulfil various obligations. Marriage in Bali is also considered a customary tradition involved in the “Manusa Yadnya” ceremony, which involves a series of rituals to officially unite the couple as husband and wife, in accordance with Balinese customs and culture. This wedding procession, only formalises the bond in a customary and traditional manner, followed by the production of a marriage certificate to legally formalise that the marriage has taken place and is witnessed by the family. By obtaining this marriage certificate, it proves that the marriage is legally and culturally valid.

Balinese Wedding Important To Society

Balinese Wedding Ceremony is an unforgettable moment for people, where the procession is followed by Hindu rituals, follows customary rules, and is scheduled based on the Balinese Hindu Calendar. The couple wears beautiful uniforms, all of which are adapted from the local cultural heritage during the procession. For Balinese people, especially those who are Hindu, marriage is one of the most important things in their lives. The wedding ceremony is considered as a sign or announcement that one will enter a new stage of life after leaving the Brahmacari period. Through marriage in Bali, a person takes on responsibilities as a member of society. He gains the right to speak at Banjar (community body) meetings and perform social duties, such as attending temple ceremonies and taking part in community activities. Thus, he is recognised as an adult by the other members of the Banjar and is given the opportunity to take on more responsibilities in the Banjar. The importance of a sacred traditional ceremony in a Hindu wedding in Bali is key for the couple’s marriage to be recognised by the community. Without this ceremony, the couple will be excommunicated from their village.

Balinese Hindu Wedding Traditional Process

The traditional Balinese Hindu marriage process, known as Pewiwahan, is a series of marriages that follow Balinese customs in accordance with the cultural customs of the local village. This process is a stage of marriage that is officially recognised in a village after going through various marriage rules in accordance with the customs and culture that apply to the man who proposes to the woman. The stages of the marriage process using Balinese Hindu cultural customs are complex, requiring a lot of preparation to go through this procession which is considered very sacred. Although in general the marriage process is similar, there are some differences involving less significant aspects. The following are the stages of the marriage process carried out according to Hindu customs and culture in Bali :

  1. Mesedek: The first day begins with mesedek, which means asking permission to propose to the bride’s parents. The groom’s parents come to the bride’s house and meet the bride and groom, and introduce the groom. On this day, attendance is limited, only the parents of the bride and groom are present. Mesedek is done with the aim that the bride’s parents can assess the extent of the groom’s seriousness in establishing a household with his daughter, as well as to observe the attitude and behaviour of the bride-to-be. This event is very important because if the bride’s parents agree to the marriage contract, then the mesedek is considered a success. However, if they do not agree, the marriage contract may end unsuccessfully. If the consent of the woman’s parents has been obtained on this day, the next process can proceed.
  2. Dewasa Ayu: After getting permission from the bride’s parents to marry their daughter, the next step is to look for a day that is considered good for the wedding, known as Dewasa Ayu or good day. On this day, the groom’s parents will visit the elders or pemangku, asking for advice on a good date for the wedding. The village elder or Sulinggih visited will give a day that is considered good according to Balinese customs and culture. This calculation is based on the Balinese calendar which uses a system where one month is equivalent to 35 days. In addition, a good day should not fall before major holidays, such as Galungan and Kuningan, or better yet, after major holidays. It is believed that getting married on a good day will bring good luck in harmony and longevity of the relationship, as well as blessings in life together.
  3. Memadik: After getting a good day for the wedding ceremony, on the day of Mesakapan, which is 3 days before the wedding, the groom will pick up the bride and bring her to the groom’s house. The Mesakapan is attended by village elders, traditional leaders, and spokespersons from both sides of the family. On this day, the elders and spokespersons will again ask the prospective bride and groom about their ability to go through with the marriage. The bride-to-be will be asked for her consent to the marriage with the groom-to-be. If the answer is in the affirmative, then the memadik process is considered successful. This is followed by a discussion of the groom’s family tree and customs, and the stages of the wedding procession. On this day, the bride-to-be is taken to the groom’s house for a series of ceremonies in accordance with local village customs. The bride and groom welcoming ceremony is then held at the groom’s residence, with the following ceremonies :

o Mesegeh Agung: Mesegeh Agung is a ceremony held at the groom’s residence with the specific purpose of welcoming the bride. When the bride arrives at the groom’s residence, she will be covered with a yellow cloth on her head. Before entering the yard area, the mesegeh agung ceremony will take place. At this stage, the prospective in-laws will open the yellow cloth covering the bride’s head and exchange it with kepeng (Balinese ancient money). This ceremony has a symbolic meaning showing that the groom’s parents welcome the arrival of the bride in their home and welcome her as a new member of the family.

  1. Mesakapan: The Mesakapan procession is a very important stage, usually held 3 days after the Memadik event. On this day, the bride and groom will be inaugurated as husband and wife through a traditional ceremony led by Sulinggih or village officials. Mesakapan carries the meaning of the union or formation of a bond between purusa and pradana, representing the union as husband and wife. This process is organised in scale and niskala, using the means of Banten. On the day of Mesakapan, the prospective bride and groom will undergo a series of rituals in accordance with the groom’s customs. They will also perform prayers at the groom’s Sanggah guided by Sulinggih or village officials. Once this procession is complete, the bride and groom are officially recognised as husband and wife according to custom and culture. On this day, there are several series of ceremonies that need to be performed, such as :

o Mekala-kalaan: Mekala-kalaan is one of the ceremonies held on the day of the marriage ceremony. The purpose of this ceremony is to cleanse the bride and groom from negative energy. In addition, this ceremony also aims to cleanse the male and female ovum, with the hope that later, when they have a son, their family life will run harmoniously. The ceremony is also expected to help the couple in solving household problems properly, without interference from other parties. The Mekala-kalaan process carries a deep meaning, where each ritual performed contains hopes, prayers and blessings for the bride and groom. The goal is for them to live a good, harmonious and blessed married life. In the Mekala-kalaan event, there are several ritual processions that must be carried out, which involve a series of steps as follows :

  • Kala Sepetan: The Kala Sepetan ritual is part of the mekala-kalaan, in which the bride and groom circumambulate Banten (the ritual centre) three times and touch their feet during sepetan to the marriage centre. The purpose is to purify and cleanse the bride and groom from any negative influences in the body that may still exist from their single days. This ritual symbolises purity and readiness for married life.
  • Dagang – Dagangan: The Dagang-Dagangan ritual is part of the mekala-kalaan, where the bride and groom play the roles of trader and buyer. The bride carries a basket of merchandise, and the groom buys it. This ritual involves buying and selling and bidding, with the hope that later, after marriage, the couple will not lack fortune.
  • Tusuk Tikeh: The Tusuk Tikeh ritual is part of the mekala-kalaan where the procession involves piercing a mat made of young pandanus leaves. The bride holds an impromptu mat, and the groom stabs a kris into the woven mat. This symbolises the power of Sang Hyang Prakerti (the power of yoni) and the kris symbolises the power of Sang Hyang Purusa (the power of phallus).
  • Mapegat: The Mapegat ritual is the last stage of the mekala-kalaan. The bride and groom sever a thread tied to two branches of a dapdap tree. The meaning is to symbolise the end of adolescence and to start building a new home life with a clean and pure heart. This is an important process that marks the transition from single to married life.

o Mewidhi Widana: Mewidhi Widana is the peak ritual ceremony that declares that the bride and groom are officially husband and wife. This ceremony is witnessed in both niskala and sekala, by performing prayers at the Family Temple of the male family led by Sulinggih or village officials. In this procession, the bride and groom offer prayers to the ancestors who reside in the family temple. They ask for blessings for the arrival of a new family member in the man’s family, who will continue his ancestral lineage. This process is very important as a step to ask for blessings from the ancestors, so that in the future the newly formed family can live a harmonious life.

o Ma Pejati: Ma Pejati is the last series of ceremonies performed by going to the bride’s house and praying at the family temple of the woman’s family. This ceremony aims to say goodbye to the bride’s ancestors and follow the groom’s ancestors. As part of the Patrilineal system in Bali, where the woman follows her husband, this ritual has the purpose of asking the ancestors for permission to move to the husband’s new family. In this ceremony, the groom and his family bring traditional food that will be given to the woman’s family. This is the final process of the Hindu wedding ritual in Bali.

  1. Mejauman: Mejauman is the last process after the wedding ceremony, where the purpose is to meet the woman’s family. Mejauman has a very important sacred value in Balinese Hindu weddings, as it is considered an official symbol of marriage in sekala and niskala. The term “Table” comes from the root word “Jaum”, which means “Needle” and in this context describes the act of joining, knitting and stringing. As such, mejauman reflects the endeavour to unite the close relationship between the two sides of the bride and groom’s family. More than just symbolism, the mejauman banquet has a deep meaning as a form of thanksgiving to the ancestors. On this occasion, the bride and groom also ask for blessings so that the newly formed household is always protected and blessed by the ancestors.

The procession of traditional and cultural Hindu weddings in Bali that has been described is an overview of the tradition. Although there are variations in their implementation in different villages, the main purpose of each procession remains the same, which is to formalise the relationship between husband and wife. These rituals are known as commonplace wedding ceremonies, marking an important step in the lives of couples who are about to form a household. The procession is not only an important part of Balinese Hindu life, but also an attraction for foreign travellers looking for a unique and tradition-rich wedding experience. Involving sacred elements, such as prayers, money exchange, and other symbolic ceremonies, Balinese weddings create precious moments that are expected to bring harmony and blessings to the married couple.

Balinese Hindu Wedding Style

Marriage is important to humans, both as a way to continue offspring and to find a companion for life. Marriage can come from mutual consent, with an arranged marriage system, or even without parental blessing, creating different variations in the type of marriage. Each type of marriage has its different processes and rituals, as seen in some Balinese wedding rituals that correspond to the basis of the marriage. as for those can be seen below :

  1. Ngerorod : This type of marriage, which does not have the consent of the bride, is more commonly known as “Running Bride”. Such marriages were common in the past and are part of a customary tradition and culture that has been accepted from generation to generation, even today. This reflects the Hindu society’s respect for this marriage system. Sometimes, even those who have obtained the blessings of both parents choose to involve themselves in this marriage system. Some of the factors that form the basis of this ngerorod marriage are:

o A woman and a man who love each other but do not have the blessing of the woman’s parents, perhaps due to differences in caste, class or tribe, can trigger a ngerorod marriage. Where the male party often makes a secret commitment to the female party to meet the male party and go to the male party’s house, and sometime later, a messenger from the male party states that the female party is already at the male party’s house, which then involves a siri marriage in the male family.

o Despite having the blessings of both parties, there are situations where the woman and man cannot marry normally due to economic constraints. In this case, they may opt for the ngerorod marriage system as it is more affordable. However, when finances allow, they can organise a legal wedding even if they already have children, as it is important to undergo the wedding ceremony process in the Hindu tradition to maintain harmony in the family.

Before marriage laws, such marriages were very common. Nowadays, however, the ngerorod system can still be practised provided the woman has reached the age of more than 18 and it is consensual. If under that age, men may face legal consequences for harassing minors. With laws governing marriage norms in place, such marriages cannot be entered into haphazardly, and if the woman’s parents do not approve, it can be reported as kidnapping to the authorities. Therefore, the current ngerorod system tends to be influenced more by caste differences and economic hardship.

  1. Memadik: Memadik is a common marriage tradition among Balinese Hindus. The process involves a very complex ceremony and obtains the blessing of both parties, so it is often done because it is considered more legitimate in religious and legal terms. In this tradition, the male parent and his family members go to the female parent’s house to propose to their daughter. Although it involves expensive ceremonies and offerings, it is held in higher esteem by the girl’s parents when compared to secret marriages such as elopements that take place in secret at night. From the man’s perspective, although riskier because it requires the consent of the bride’s parents, the marriage is carefully planned in advance. This involves assessing the ability of the girl’s parents to accept the groom, so that during the marriage process, any obstacles can be avoided, and the marriage can go smoothly.
  1. Nyentana: Nyentana is a form of marriage that represents the opposite of the typical Balinese marriage system. In Bali, society adheres to a patrilineal system where a woman follows her husband and becomes part of the husband’s family. This is due to the strong influence of the male lineage which is considered capable of continuing the ancestral lineage. In cases where the family has no male and only female members, the Nyentana system is applied. In this system, women play the role that men generally do, which is to bring men into the family. This is the opposite of the previous tradition where men brought women into the family. The purpose of the Nyentana system is to continue the paternal ancestral lineage of the woman’s family. The marriage ceremony in the Nyentana system is carried out with a common process, except that the role and position of the woman is different. This tradition is only carried out if there are no men in the family, which makes finding a male candidate who is willing to become Nyentana a difficult task. Factors such as not getting permission from parents, difficulty leaving parents, and other factors make finding someone who is willing to become Nyentana a very difficult endeavour. Men who are willing to become Sentana must be willing to leave their ancestors and parents, and move to the female ancestor’s family to become part of the family.

Balinese Wedding Different Caste

In ancient times, the kingdoms of Bali were known for their deeply held caste system. In those days, caste fanaticism prevented marriages between men and women of different castes, as it was considered important to produce a pure generation of that caste. Violation of this rule could result in ostracisation by the village, which was done to the parents of the offending man or woman. Although the caste system is still upheld today, this practice of ostracisation is no longer in place. Instead, a ceremonial procession system is in place. If a man from a higher caste marries a woman from a lower caste, the woman’s caste will rise, and she will get the title “Jero”. Conversely, if the man is from a lower caste and marries a woman from a higher caste, the woman will give up her caste status to become “Nyerod” or down-caste. The woman will follow the man’s caste, and this means that the woman will not be allowed to worship at her family’s temple because she has changed castes. Although caste change still plays an important role in divorce, where the child will have a caste equal to her husband’s caste and cannot return to her previous caste. However, over time, these values began to lose importance, and the daughter’s happiness became prioritised by parents over caste. Some places have adapted this change, although in some places, the old traditions still survive. Weddings in Bali are considered very sacred, bringing a man and woman who love each other to build a future together and have children to continue the family lineage. Advance preparation is considered important, as after marriage, responsibility towards the family is inevitable.

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