February started off with a bang as the LFP team attended the wedding of Sri and Dede. Sri is part of our fantastic teaching team (you may have seen her in photos from Nature Club or Forest Protector sessions) so it was an honor to be invited to her big day. Although the first wedding I attended was an incredible affair, this day felt even more special as we knew the bride.
Indonesian weddings start early and when Hanny and I arrived at Sri’s house at 0715 we were already a couple of hours behind the first guests. We caught the end of the preparations though, and saw Sri getting the finishing touches on her make-up and the women putting on their incredible jeweled dresses. Narrowly avoiding getting dragged into the make-up chair ourselves we found a safe hide out entertaining the little kids, which was conveniently located by the snack table. We played a hilarious game of ‘hear-Jessica-failing-to-pronounce-words-correctly!’, which was loved by all. On the rare occasion I did master the Bahasa Indonesian word I’d quickly have the same word shouted at me but in Sundanese or occasionally Korean. I have found Indonesian people nothing if not generous and while all this was going on we were brought box after box of biscuits, cakes and crisps – most were absolutely delicious, and those who know me will believe it when I say I did my utmost to be polite and eat as much as I could.
We headed outside to see the arrival of the groom’s party, which consisted of a long procession of family and friends each carrying gifts. It is tradition in west Java that it is the groom’s family who provides the new couple with the things they’ll need to start off in their own home, so people were carrying everything from glass sets to bedspreads which were inventively sewn into the shapes of various animals. Soon after this was the ceremony; following prayer time the couple sat at a table facing their fathers and the imam as all the guests gathered around. Speeches were given, vows were made, books were signed and it was official! The couple then made their way up to the stage to begin the photographs and the guests queued up for the buffet. Still full from all the cakes I’d been given earlier I tried to sneak away but was spotted by the mother of the Groom and taken straight up to the table and pushed into the queue. The buffet had a huge selection of food, including my favourite ‘cendol’ (chen-doll), a dessert/drink thing made with condensed milk and brown sugar so I managed to eat a plate or two…
The LFP team was invited up on stage to have photos with the bridal party and we all gave our congratulations to the bride and groom before making room for the next hundred or so guests queuing behind. The band was just setting up and very kindly invited me to sing with them – although sadly I had to refuse. Luckily they were distracted by a sudden commotion outside and all the children were jumping around, Hanny explained to me that it was a tradition called ‘sawer’ (sow-where) or coin-throwing, and it is a way for the bride’s family to share their happiness around.
It was a lovely day, Sri looked so beautiful and happy and we left with sore faces from too much smiling and sore stomachs from too much good food!
Jess Wise – Student Volunteer