My Brother’s Wedding

via Binsar Pakpahan by binsar on 12/4/09

I went to Indonesia at the end of October until mid November for my brother’s wedding. It was a beautiful moment. I had a plan to play a surprise visit. I said to him that I would try to find the ticket to come home for his wedding from early July. Then I told my sister, my parents, and his fiancee – at that moment, that I would give a surprise visit, that they should play along. Marina, his fiancee, said, “yeah we should play a joke on him once in a while!” So I planned the whole thing carefully.

Two weeks before the wedding, I still said that I would try to come but its getting really difficult to finding a reasonable ticket price. One time I received a text from my dad, he said, “You must come home for your brother’s wedding.” Apparently my dad also has forgotten about the plan. Just before I entered the plane for home I text my brother saying I’m sorry that I will not come for his wedding. I turned off the phone afterward and went in the plane.

My sister picked me up at the airport, then we went to my dad’s office to pick up mom and dad. We went together to Kelapa Gading for a surprise dinner. Marina asked Darta to accompany her to Kelapa Gading for a wedding arrangements. My sister told me that he looked sad the whole day because of my sms, but she also told him, “see, I told you Bang Binsar is not coming.” My dad told me that Darta slept the whole morning after showing my dad my sms. He didn’t know the plan.

So there we were, having dinner in Kelapa Gading Food City. I hid around the corner when Marina text that they were coming. He was surprised to see my parents and Iyut there. He thought they were meeting someone else. Then I came and asked, “what would you like to order sir” hahaha… You should have seen the look on his face. It was priceless. We hugged and Iyut took some photos. He was really surprised and I thought I saw tears on his eyes hahaha.

What I want to share is not the details about the wedding. His wedding was a success. I want to share the thing that I’ve learned about a Batak wedding.

People, even some Batak too, often said that Batak marriage is too complicated, too hectic, and full of problems. Well it is in fact true. The wedding’s cultural reception or adat was a big thing. I could never understand it fully until I saw it myself.

What I learned through my brother’s wedding is that a Batak wedding is a unification of two big families. It is about unifying two families. I knew about it before, but to really experiencing it is a different thing. Almost the whole family that comes from outside Jakarta, from my mom and my dad side, stayed in our house. It was really crowded but fun. Every morning I was awaken by the sound of people talking or arguing at 5 in the morning!

One of the positive things about this is the cultural pressure for a Batak couple not to get divorced. It is a really rare case to find divorced Batak marriage. If something happened to the new couple, the whole family will also take responsible in helping them.

It is also a kind of declaration to know who your new family member is. My brother, and my family, is now the new family member of the bride’s family.

For me, it was the first time to seeing all my relatives in one place. I just realised, I had a lot of relatives… a bit to many I think hahaha…  And the surprising thing is that I knew most of them! I think my parents have done a great job in keeping us informed about who are the relatives of the family.

It was also an excellent bonding time for me and my sister and brother. It is the time that you know you would do anything for them and that they would have done the same for you. It was a great feeling! I love them to bits!

A Batak wedding also gives you a sense of humility, that your life is not only yours. I realized that through my life I have been helped by so many people, and that is why I recognize most of the people there. Most of them were present through the phases of my life. This means that I should never think that I am successful because of my own strength, God has put these lovely people in my life path to help me become who I am now.

Now of course there are downsides of a Batak wedding. I saw that too. I experienced a family arguments on who has the right to do what in the adat. But it was taken care by the family. I also criticized the invitation that was made on the use of education titles. It’s a typical Batak thing to show the title of bride and groom and the family on the invitation. I think this is totally irrelevant. There are other stuff too that I wont mention here.

After experiencing the wedding, most of the people asked me, “When is your turn?” Well, everybody will always ask these three questions. When you’re single, “When are you getting married?” When you’re married they will ask, “When will you have children?”, and when you have a child, “When will you give the baby a sibling?” So I knew people would ask me these questions. I managed to answer them with a smile. I believe the time comes when the right person comes.

I was homesick for two weeks since I returned to the Netherlands. It was terrible. I missed my family and the sun… I couldn’t work well. But now I am hoping to finishing my study well so I can be with the family again :)

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