Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Trip to East Java: Part V - the Wedding

I woke up at 5AM last Friday to go to the morning prayer at a massive mosque in Surabaya. The mosque was enormous - I am told capacity of 30,000. One of the family, Mas Bibing, is a caretaker at the mosque. Mas Bibing drove us there and we got VIP treatment - special parking, free breakfast with all manner of important people in the back after the prayer, and access to the top of the minaret tower, from which we had a glorious view of the mosque and Surabaya. By the time we got back around 8AM, I was exhausted, so I slept until 11AM. I had a weird dream about being in a church study group and saying some controversial things that made some people very angry at me.

The wedding ceremony was to begin at 3:30PM, so I had a few hours to shower, dress, and rehearse the Madurese folk songs I had only the night before found out I would be performing at the wedding reception.

Speaking of the night before, you'll remember that the mosquitoes are terrible in Surabaya. Nina arrived at 3 o'clock in the morning and the noise of her arrival stirred me from sleep. I awoke to discover the tops of both of my feet were covered in bites that were as bothersome as any I've ever had. I could not fall back to sleep. Suddenly, a line from the Fulbright handbook about life in the tropics popped into my head: "Ammonia takes the itch out of bites." That was all it said. Suddenly, it dawned on me. I'll leave it to you to figure out what I did (it involved a visit to the mandi), but the advice was sound - I got rid of the itch and was back to sleep in fifteen minutes.

At the first part of the ceremony, the husband-to-be formally presents himself to the bride's family for their stamp of approval. The husband-to-be, Ian:

The family of the bride (Woro), her brother Rudy and parents:

The happy onlookers. Note Herul, hiding behind the tree, and Nina, always watching and knowing what's going on:

The next step of the ceremony is the signing of the marriage papers. Many things are ceremoniously said, Islamic prayers were offered, and the bride finally made her appearance. But the men meet at the table first:

The signing commenced, with repeated gestures of where, exactly, each person was to scrawl his name. "Here?" " Yes, right here." "Here, right?" "Yes - right here, no wait - there. Right here."

The women of the family, all beautiful in their green-blue dresses, looked on with interest:

the Eyangs

Puci and Nina. I wish I had a transcript of this conversation:

After the signing, the stunningly beautiful Woro came to the table:

A group of us got together for a quick shot while they continued all their official business:

After all the signing was finished, the bride and groom went up on stage to approach the seated parents. Here they formally asked for forgiveness and acceptance of the marriage:

Then we broke to change and take a minute before the wedding reception. I went outside with Hery to get some batteries for his camera. I couldn't resist taking a picture of the kambings (goats) who had survived the first Friday round of the slaughter (the killing continues on Saturday and Sunday as well, as some people prefer the extra time on those days rather than prayer-intensive Friday). This is a sight I had never encountered, and probably will never encounter, in the states:

We went back to the guest house to change clothes and take a break. Herul and I obtained some awesome traditional Madurese costume:

Nina clearly wished she could be one of the boys here:

When we returned to the wedding reception, the place was positively bustling. I thought the family was big is HUGE. I met family members from every corner of Indonesia. I shook many hands as people openly gawked at my Madurese dress. They loved it. Insanely, the bride and groom changed to another whole set of dress clothes! They were up on the middle of the stage and newcomers to the reception lined up to formally greet them onstage and have a picture taken. This all started around 7PM:

They had a wedding band, and after grabbing some food we could hear the band start to sing the traditional Madurese songs we had planned to sing. Hey! Wait just a minute! We rallied the family who wanted to sing and quickly usurped the stage:

You don't see it in these pictures, but from time to time Mbak Bibing or one of the others would literally shove the microphone in my face. They loved to have a bule (foreigner) singing up there with them. I, of course, couldn't really pronounce the words and was depending on Tutus holding the paper at just the right angle so I could see. It was hilarious. Oh, and the guitar in the picture above is just for looks - I had been scripted to play it, but the band piano player played and I wasn't even in tune, nor mic'd. So I quickly gave it up:

Herul even got up on stage for a featured role. That's Mbak Bibing, a strong family musician who led the charge on this whole thing and made sure everybody got a turn with a mic in their face!

Right after we finished the folk songs, the band offered for any of us to sing karaoke-style. Mbak Bibing led the way. Before I knew it, I had droves of the family shoving me up there next. I sang Michelle and When I Fall in Love, while different family members posed behind me and took pictures:

Check out Sven on the guitar!

Mas Eddie took the mic next for a stunning rendition of Sinatra's My Way. He owned it:

Woro's sister, Ati, and I finished the live karaoke with Alicia Keys' If I Ain't Got You (remix ft. Usher). She was nasty - talented family:

Bear in mind, the couple were on stage taking pictures this entire time. They didn't stop to eat. When they had greeted every guest, they continued posing for shot after shot. They didn't stop until almost everyone had cleared out and the staff were cleaning up the place and putting everything down. I think they must have taken thousands of photos. Oh well, they looked great. And we had a great time. This shot sums it up:

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