Javanese Wedding

Indonesia has many diverse cultures (an estimated number of 300 cultures and languages, among 200 million Indonesians, living on 13.677 different islands). This enormous variety in cultures has a great impact on marriage ceremonies. Every wedding in Indonesia has a different ceremony, each of them influenced by the cultures of the families involved. Every ceremony is a step in the creation of a new bound between two families.

The parents of the man (would-be-bridegroom) send an envoy to the parents of the woman (would-be-bride), proposing that their son is willing to marry their daughter. Nowadays, for practical reasons, the parents of both sides can talk directly. The parents of the couple have to approve the marriage.

Usually, the parents of the would-be-bride have a greater say, as they are the ones who will organise the ceremonies (a big wedding will require a Paés Agung (kings make-up), a small one will require a Paés Kesatrian (knight's make-up)). They are responsible for the wedding ceremonies that will be followed, such as Siraman (bathing ceremony), Midodareni (ceremony on the eve before the wedding), Peningsetan (traditional engagement ceremony), Ijab (religious marriage consecration) and other Javanese ceremonies following the wedding celebration. They will also organise the wedding reception to give family and friends the opportunity to send their blessings to the newly wed couple.




Ijab ceremony or also known as akad nikah is an administrative and religious ceremony in the sense that this process is done based on the laws of the country and the laws of religion or beliefs. It can be conducted in the home of the bride, Religious Affairs Office, churches, or other designated places.

Basically, ijab ceremony is:

a. Declaration from the bride and groom towards God which is witnessed by an authorized official on behalf of the public, parents and relatives of the couple. The declaration contains:
1. Vow to love and care each other
2. Vow to be responsible and fulfills his duty as a good husband and wife.
3. Vow to be responsible towards the future children from their marriage

b. Official declaration that the marriage is done without force from anyone.

1. Nacessities of ijab Ceremony
In Javanese tradition, there are generally no necessities in the form of offerings or others in this process except for ceremonies in Kraton.The only necessities are those for formal administrative and religious purpose.

2. Conducting Ijab Ceremony
Special for this ceremony, in Javanese tradition generally there is no regulation for proceedings that has sacred or symbolical meanings in this ceremony where in other ceremonies, like in siraman, ngerik, midodareni, and panggih, symbols and sacredness are very dominant. The proceedings of this ceremony strictly follow regulations stated in national and religious laws.



Panggih ceremony in Javanese traditional wedding ceremony becomes the peak of the series of ceremonies conducted for marriage. This ceremony in general contains ceremonies:
- gift giving
- entrance of kembar mayang followed by the bride
- throwing of betel leaves
- foot washing and egg breaking
- masak menuju perkawinan
- (tampa kaya) symbolic joining of couples wealth
- couples first meal
- sungkeman (paying respects to parents)
Panggih ceremony with traditional ambience is usually connected to andarwina or reception party.

1. Necessities for Panggih Ceremony
Like in other traditional ceremonies, panggih ceremonies have certain necessities which need to be met. Those necessities are:

a. For the procession of betel leaves throwing followed by foot washing and egg braking:
1. seven rolls of betel leaves tied with a string
2. a pair of kembar mayang
3. gifts consists of bananas, yarn, and betel leaves arranged on a tray
4. water container for foot washing
5. bokor air sritaman (water container filled with fragranced water)
6. organic chicken egg to be placed inside the water container

b. For tampa kaya procession
1) 25 cm x 25 cm white sheet
2) beans, corns, soybeans, rice, even number of coins and flowers to symbolize

c.For dahar Klimah Procession
1) empty plate and napkin
2) Yellow rice with side dishes: chicken liver, smoked fish scrambled egg, and soy beans
3) tea drinks

Besides mentioned traditional necessities, parents of the bride should wear traditional dress mataraman (traditional dress from Yogyakarta) with truntum sheet bottom which symbolizes the hope to have inflowing wealth. Sindhur, which is a scarf with red coloring and white sides, is also used as a belt. Sindhur is a mark that the person wearing it is the host of the reception. For the mother of the bride, sindhur is worn on the outside of the corset. For the father sindhur is visibly worn on the outside the dress.

2. Procession of Panggih Ceremony
The steps of Panggih Ceremony according to the Javanese tradition go as follows.

1) The groom accompanied by his best man followed by pengombyong (sympathizers) arrives at the ceremony location. The arrival of the groom is welcomed with gamelan score of gendhing bindri. The formation of the groom party is: gift bearer is in the most front followed by the groom, which is accompanied by two people, then the pengombyong.

2) The party of the groom stops at a designated point, usually in front of the tarub (grandstand). Janur decorations on the gate of the reception location. The gift bearer which consists of two women accompanied by another bearer enters the location. The gifts are given to the mother of the bride standing by on a designated spot. The gift giving is a sign that the groom and family have come. It also requests that the bride comes out so the panggih ceremony can immediately begin.

3) After the gift is received, the bride is taken out following a pair of kembar mayang carried by two women. On this process, a gamelan score penganthi putri is played. Last, domas (bride’s maids) follows in the end of the line.

4) After the bride and groom arrives in front of the grand stand, without any signals, the procession of betel leaves throwing proceeds. The bride and groom throws at each other with both hands. The groom throws four times and the bride only throws three times.

5) Then, the bride and groom gathers at the water container for foot washing procession. Both footwear of the groom is removed. Both feet of the groom steps in the water. Then, the bride kneels in front of the groom and washes his feet with at least three throws of water. In the end, the groom puts his footwear back on.

6) Foot washing procession is continued by egg breaking procession. The newlywed couple stands in front of each other. The bride’s make up artist picks the egg up from bokor air sritaman. The egg is touched to the forehead of the groom then to the forehead of the bride. Then, the egg is dropped to the water container for foot washing. The processions of betel leaves throwing, foot washing and egg dropping is completed. All three is done in the same place, in front of the grandstand.

7) The newlywed couple stands side by side with the grooms left pinkie tied to the right pinkie of the bride. With fingers tied to each other, the couple walks to the wedding dais. On the dais, parents of the bride wait. The couple walk to the dais following a patah (path opener) and are accompanied by the bride’s maids on the left and right of the couple. Behind them are families, friends and sympathizers.

8) After the couple sits in the wedding dais, the tampa kaya procession begins. It is best if the tampa baya procession begins after the gamelan score of gending boyong or puspo warno finishes. The procession of tampa kaya:

The bride picks a prepared cloth and opens it on her laps. The groom stands and takes a kaya (beans and rice symbolizing wealth) and pours them slowly together with the kaya wrapper into the cloth on the brides lap. This should be done very carefully to avoid any spills. It is believed that if there are spilled beans or rice, it signals that the economy of the family will be wasteful. Then, the bride wraps her kaya back and entrust it to her mother.

9) The procession of dahar klimah (first joining meal) is conducted as follows. The make up artist gives yellow rice to the groom and empty plate to the bride. After washing their hands, the groom takes the three handful lumps yellow rice and puts them on the plate held by the bride. Then, the couple washes their hands again. The bride then eats the lump of rice on her plate. What does the groom do? The groom does not eat with her. He only pays attention to her eating. After this procession, the couple drinks.

10) So far, the groom does not seem to be involved. True, according to Javanese tradition, up until dahar klimah ceremony, parents of the groom have not arrived. It is the task of the parents of the bride to pick the parents of the groom (in laws) up. This process is done in front of the grandstand (tarub). They shake each other hands and enter the reception place. In a crowded reception, the in laws should walk mother together with mother, and father together with father. On the dais, parents of the brides seat the parents of the groom on the left of the bride. Then, he parents of the bride sits on the right of the groom.

11) The next procession is for the couple to pay respect towards their parents, the sungkem process. How does this sungkem procession conducted? Generally, sungkeman procession is conducted as follows: The marrying couple kneels in front of their parents. Then they show their respects by each putting their palms together in front of their face and bows to put their hands and heads on the laps of their parents. Then, the couple kisses the knees of their parents. Both of the parents’ hands touch the shoulders of their children to give their blessings. Then, the couple sits upright and puts their palms together in front of their face to pay their respects again.

The steps are as follows:

Someone takes the keris from groom. The couple stands and walks to the parents of the bride. The bride starts by sungkem to her father. The groom stands behind her. The bride then sungkem to her mother. At that moment, the groom sungkem to his father in law. The, the groom sungkem to his mother in law and the bride stands behind him.Then the couple walks to groom’s parents. Here, the same process happens as it was done on the bride’s parents. After the sungkem finishes, the keris is given back to the groom. Then, they walk back to their seats on the dais. During the sungkeman procession, it is best if the gamelan score puspo warno or boyong are played for the back sound.



Siraman ceremony is conducted one day before the wedding. It is usually done in the morning at around 10:00 am. Recently these ceremonies are also done in the afternoon at around 4:00 pm. This is done for practicality matters. So after siraman ceremony is done, midodareni ceremony can directly begin.Siraman ceremony is still considered very importanat today and is conducted in a serious manner. The reason is that this ceremony is a physical and mental preparation for the bride and groom before going through the main ceremony of their wedding. The cleansing of their body also symbolizes the cleansing of their hearts.
In Javanese traditional society with their various religious beliefs, wedding ceremonies are considered not only as an administrative and social event, but it is a sacred or holy and a religious ritual. Therefore, purity of the body and soul of the actors are considered very important. According to the myths, siraman ceremony is conducted to prepare the welcome angels who are descending to come to the wedding.
1. Equipments for Siraman Ceremony
Equipments needed for Siraman Ceremony are:

a. Clean water/water from springs
This will be the water used to bathe the bride and groom. This ceremony symbolizes spiritual cleaning to clean the body and soul of the bride and groom.

b. Sritaman Flowers.
Sritaman flowers mean flowers which come from beautiful gardens such as jasmine, roses, magnolia, and cananga. These flowers are thrown into the water to make the water smell nice. The bride and groom are bathed with this water to make their body smell nice. Symbolically, this is called semerbak.

c. A Pair of Green Coconuts.
The pair of green coconut, parts of the skin is tied to each other. Then the coconuts are soaked into the flower fragranced water. The meaning for the pair of coconuts which skin are tied to each other is a hope that the marrying couple will always live in harmony towards each other as elders say mimi lan mintuna and to be useful like coconuts.

d. Sitting pads
The sitting pads of the marrying couple are very well made and decorated which consists of:
- A sheet with yuyu sekandang, which is a gold striped brown fabric, motif on it
- A sheet with pulo watu, which is white, red and black striped fabric, motif on it.
The sitting pads are meant to block away bad luck and dangers. It is also to hope that the couple will be able to solve all the problems and challenges that they will face in their lives.

e. Konyoh panca warna (Five colored wet powder)
Konyoh is a kind of wet powder made of maize mixed with various herbs and kinds of traditional jamu. Konyoh comes in many colors. The konyoh used for this ceremony consists of five colors: red, white, yellow, green, and blue.
Because it consists of five colors, it is called Konyoh manca or panca warna, which means five colors. Konyoh will be used as soaps for making plants clean and shine with many colors.

f. Coconut milk, merang and Tamarind Juice.
Coconut milk which comes from dense coconut meat, merang (water mixed with ashes of rice stems), and tamarind juice are used as softening shampoo to wash the hair on the siraman ceremony or after.

g. Klenthing (clay water pot filled with clean water)
Klenthing (clay water pot filled with clean water) is used mark the end of siraman ceremony.
Sajen (offerings) are offerings or gifts to spiritual powers and souls in a ceremony. Offerings in siraman ceremony are many.

They are:
1) One cething of Tumpeng Robyong (cone shaped rice serving)
Cething is a type of rice container made of caned bamboo. Tumpeng is cone shaped rice serving made to hope for safety and etcetera. Tumpeng robyong is tumpeng with boiled vegetables like beans, cabbage, and spinach with many spices.

2) One cething of tumpeng gundhul
Tumpeng gundhul is tumpeng with fried foods like salted fish, anchovies, nuts, and tholo crackers.

3) A tray of snacks which consists of:
- boiled fruits
- a plate of bananas,
- peeled coconuts
- brown sugar
- empluk (clay toys) filled with bumbu pawon (kitchen spices), rice, raw eggs, hair comb and mirror
- jlupak (coconut oil lamp with cotton)
- bunga talon (jasmine, magnolia, and cananga) with change money
- - betel leaves for chewing

4) A tray of porridges
Porridges offered in the ceremony are colorful, red, white, paro-paro (white with a red spot in the middle with brown sugar), and lirit (half red and half white)

5) Live Young rooster
All offerings and equipments should be prepared before the siraman ceremony starts. They are placed in a bathroom or wherever the siraman ceremony takes place.

2. The Process of Siraman Ceremony
After all the equipment and offerings are prepared, and the marrying couple are ready with siraman clothing, which is batik sheet and mori (white sheet), the ceremony can begin
Steps in the Ceremony :

1) The marrying individuals who wear the siraman clothing and loose hair are picked by their parents and taken to the siraman location followed by their elders and carriers of sheets with grompol batik motif, nogosari batik motif, with other dressing attributes which are placed neatly on a tray. The sheets and dressing attributes will be used when the ceremony is over. On the ceremony location, the marrying individuals are seated in the prepared sitting pads.

2) Parents of the bride and groom, father firs, then mother, starts bathing their child with clean fragranced water with a pair of tied coconuts inside

Before that process, a prayer according to their religion or beliefs is conducted. The prayers are not said out loud. At the time of bathing, they are given konyoh manca warna and merang. Then, the bathing is ended with three throws of water with to the head. Then, it is continued by their elders. There are no regulations to how many people should bathe the couple. The more the merrier as long as the number is odd, including the muloni make up artist. Moloni means wulu or wudlu, which is the act of washing the face, hands and feet before praying.

3) The make up artist or others end the bathing with muloni.
Muloni is conducted as follows:
after the make up artist washes hair and cleans it thoroughly until it is certainly clean, the make up artist takes the clay water pot with spring water. The water in the clay pot is thrown to the head of the marrying individuals three times.
- Then the marrying individuals position their hands like washing before praying, which is putting the hands forward facing up to contain the water.
- The make up artist puts the water to the hands of the individuals for them to wash the inside of their mouth three times.
-Then, the couple continues bathing and comes out of the bathing place wearing a batik sheet with grompol as bottom and nogosari sheet for the top. With their parents, the couple enters the wedding bedroom followed by their elders.
The siraman ceremony is done to both the bride and groom. It is usually conducted in their own homes. If the siraman ceremony for the groom is conducted in the house of the bride, the siraman for the bride is conducted first before the siraman for the groom. The equipment needed for the ceremony is the same. The dresses are of course different but contain the same motifs.



Ngerik ceremony is the next step in the siraman processes which is mainly to purify the bodies and souls of the couple. In this ceremony, the parts cleaned are facial hairs in the forehead. This is done to make the appearance of the couple to be fresh and ‘shinny’ (semeblak-Javanese)

1. Equipment for Ngerik Ceremony
Equipments for ngerik ceremony is basically similar for the siraman ceremony. Special things that are needed for the ceremony are incenses, truntum batik sheet, kebaya dress, shaving knives, covered mirror, and towels.

2. Processes of Ngerik Ceremony.

1) After the bride is seated on the designated padding, her hair is incensed, as follows:
- Incense pot after filled with lit charcoal are sprinkled with incenses until the smell of the incenses are noticed
- From behind, the hair of the groom is lifted and the incenses are moved under the hair. The hair is to be incensed thoroughly and equally
- The top of the hair is covered with a towel to prevent the smoke of the incenses escapes to the air so the scents of the incenses are absorbed by the hair.

2) The make up for the bride are put on. The way is as follows:
The artist decides the shape of the shading which consists of penunggul, penitis, pengapit, and godheg. Then he makes the outline of the shading based on the desired shape. The outlining of the shading is done with a pencil and result will be a fine line on the face. The goal is to have a precise shave of the facial hair according to the outline of the desired shape. The facial hairs removed are only the ones outside the outline of the shading outline.

3) The bride is then shaved. The way the shave done is as follows:
Thin hairs growing outside the shading outline is removed. In other words, the thin facial hair in the kalenan, which is the area between penunggul and pengapit, between pengapit and penitis, and between penitis and godhek are carefully removed. The way to remove the hair is by shaving them along the outline of the shading starting from the penunggul, pengapit, penitis, and godheg. Beside those areas, the areas around eyelashes are also shaved. This is especially done for grooms and brides with less appealing eyelashes. Therefore, the make up artist should shape the eyelashes to look more appealing.

4) The bride is given make up and given a hair bun with traditional forms.
The bride and groom wear plain dress. In other words, the bride and groom are not wearing any jewelry. Bottoms wear are Truntum sheet and regular kebaya dress.



Basically, midodareni is a tirakatan or wungon, which is sitting together and chatting to each other in the evening before the wedding ceremony. Tirakatan also contains forms of hopes and prayers towards God that the marriage conducted would be blessed. This tirakatan is called midodareni because there is a legend of Joko Tarub, which tells about an angel, or widodari in Javanese, called Nawang Wulan. Angel Nawang Wulan who descents to earth with other angels could not fly back to heaven because her clothing which make her fly are stolen and hidden by Joko Tarub when they were swimming in a spring pond. It was told that Nawang Wulan marries Joko Tarub and had a daughter called Nawangsih. One day, because Jaka Tarub brakes a rule not to open the cover of their rice cooker, Nawang Wulan was freed from her destiny on earth and could fly back to heaven.
It was told also that Nawang Wulan will come on the night before the wedding of her daughter, Nawangsih. Nawang Wulan will bless her child and makes her face more beautiful. Therefore, the evening before each Javanese wedding is called midodareni (angel) evening which is the evening where Nawan Wulan will bless the bride and make her more beautiful like she did to her daughter.
On that evening, according to tradition, the bride is not allowed to sleep before midnight and to exit the wedding bedroom.
Where is the midodareni ceremony conducted? It is usually conducted in the home of the bride. If the groom already lives in the home of the bride, then the groom may not meet the bride. Moreover, he may not enter the wedding bedroom.

1. Necesities for Midodareni Ceremony
According to the legend, necessities used in midodareni are necessities requested by Nawang Wulan to Nawangsih to welcome her in the evening before the wedding of her daughter.

Necessities required for Midodareni Ceremony are:
1) A pair of Kembar Mayang and a pair of coconut with skins still attached. Kembar mayang is decoration made of young coconut leaves made in pairs.

2) A pair of klemuk. Klemuk is a kind of clay work filled with spices, and beans covered with a sheet with bangun tulak batik motif.

3) A pair of clay water pot filled with clean water. The tip of the pot is covered with folded Erythrina spp. leaves

4) Offerings which consists of:
- nasi gurih (rice boiled with coconut milk) with pecel sauce and fresh salad.
- A pair of whole chicken
- Coconut fruit salad
- Jlupak (coconut oil lamp with cotton wick)
- A loaf of bread
- Brown sugar.

5) The wedding bedroom is decorated with:
- palm blossom
- 7 types of letrek sheet.
- Betel vine decorated with other betel leaves
- Ukup, which is fragrance made of lemongrass, cuts of vanilla, kencur (a root crop resembling ginger, used as spice and medicine), citrus, and cananga flowers mixed together, fragranced arranged on a tray and placed under the bed or table

2. Conducting Midodareni Ceremony

After all of the necessities are available, the ceremony is conducted as follows.
1. The bride wears a dress with truntum sheet as her bottom with ordinary dress. She wears a hair bun and does not wear any jewelry or accessories.

2. The bride stays in the decorated bedroom with other midodareni necessities including offerings and kembar mayang. The bride is accompanied by her elders. This time is a good chance for the elders to share their experiences and give advices. This pemingitan (isolation of the bride) starts from 6 pm to around midnight.

3. Outside the wedding bedroom, a ceremony of giving gifts from the family of the groom to the family of the bride. On that evening, it is also possible to conduct prayers according to their belief or religion. Afterwards, the elders, guests, and friends of the bride and groom continues with jagongan (entertaining/socializing) by chatting, playing cards, and etcetera to stay up until midnight.

4. At midnight, the bride exits the bedroom together with the offerings and treats. Then they have supper with family and guests. Kembar mayang and the pair of coconut are brought out on Panggih Ceremony.