Social Structure...
Ruling Families...
Read Guestbook
Sign Guestbook

Please Make a Donation

Home >>Social Structure >>Minahasa Traditional Wedding

Traditional Wedding in the Minahasa

By : Jessy Wenas / Translated from Indonesian: Roderick C. Wahr

Manado Bride
The Wedding Procedures that up till now were carried out in the Minahasa were, along with development, adjusted over time. For instance the procedure of cleansing of the candidate bride as well as the "Posanan" (not allowed to leave the house) procedure is no longer performed one month before the marriage, but a day before the marriage on the "Malam Gagaren" or the night before the wedding.
The ceremony of bathing under the fountain is no longer done because there are no more fountains in the big cities. What is done today is the traditional "Lumelek" (stepping on the stone) bath and the "Bacoho" because it is done in the bathroom in the house of the candidate bride itself. In the traditional wedding ceremony today, all marriage procedures / ceremonies are crammed and carried out in one day.

In the morning the bride is bathed, her face is made up and both put on their wedding clothes, she wears her crown and he wears his wedding hat for the ceremony of "maso minta" (knocking on the door asking to come in). During the day the bride and groom go to the town council or the Religious Department and perform the ratification/wedding blessing (in the church), which is followed by the wedding reception.
At this ceremony usually the traditional wedding is performed, followed by the ceremony of the throwing of bridal flowers and the free dancing ceremony accompanied by traditional music, like the Maengket dance, the Katrili, the Polonaise, accompanied by Bamboo and Kolintang music.

Bacoho (Traditional Bath)

After a normal bath where the whole body is cleaned with soap, her hair is washed with shampoo and hair tonic which is normally sold in stores.
The washing of the hair the "Bacoho" way is done in either of two ways, the traditional way or only symbolically.

Traditional: The spices used are grated skins of lemons or bacoho lemon (citrus limonellus), which is used for its fragrance, popontolen lemon water (citrus lemetta) used to clean the grease from the skin of the face, finely grated pondang (pandan) leaves for its fragrance, manduru flowers (wild jasmine), rosi flowers (rose), jasmine flowers that are manually plucked, used for its fragrance, kemiri oil to loosen the hair mixed with the essence of finely rasped coconut. The combination of these spices must be made from nine kinds of field produce to wash the hair. It is then rinsed with clean water after which the hair is dried.

Symbolical: All mentioned spices are placed in a sheet of cloth in the shape of a pocket, and then dipped in hot water, then the pocket is squeezed and its water poured onto the hands and rubbed into the hair of the prospective bride as a symbol.

Lumele' (Traditional Bath): The bride is poured with water that already has white flowers in it, consisting of 9 kinds of fragrant flowers, using a dipper which is used nine times to pour water from the neck downwards. If used symbolically then the bride herself washes her face with the water. Afterwards she is dried with a clean towel that has not been used before.

Marriage Ceremony

Manado Bride & Groom
The Minahasa traditional wedding ceremony is peformed in the house of the groom or the bride. In Langowan-Tontemboan the ceremony is done in the house of the groom, whereas in Tomohon-Tombulu it is done in the house of the bride.
This influences the route procession of the bride and groom. For instance from the house of the groom to the house of the bride, then to the church and then to the location of the wedding reception. Because the reception/wedding party is the responsibility of both families of bride and groom, the responsible party usually handles the implementation of the wedding party. There are weddings that are performed the Mapalus way where bride and groom are helped by mapalus of the village people, like in the Tombuluan village. There are Minahasa people who are followers of a certain Christian religion that prefer to exchange the wedding party in the evening with the church service and the evening meal.

Minahasa people in cities like Manado have the same habit as Minahasa people outside of the Minahasa, who are called Kawanua. The lifestyle of the community in the big cities also follows the same Minahasa traditional wedding ceremonies, uniting the whole traditional wedding ceremony which is carried out in only one day (knocking on the door, introduction, delivering the dowery, the traditional wedding ceremony on the bridal dais).

An example of a wedding ceremony proces that is performed in one day:
09:00 in the morning: knock on the door of the bride. The groom goes to the house of the bride and brings presents (dowery), various kinds of food, fruit and several sheets of cloth as a symbol. The representative (witness) of the team of the groom leads the group of the groom and knocks three times on the door of the bride's house.

Traditional Minahasa House
First: Knock three times and the door will be opened from the inside by the representative of the bride. Then there is a dialog in the language of the Minahasa region. Then the groom knocks on the door of the room of the bride. After the bride comes out of her room they eat a light snack and get ready to go to church.
At 11:00 - 14:00 : The wedding is carried out in Church and they are at the same time married by the town council (if the civil servant came to the Church as well). Therefore the witnesses of both parties come along to the church and bring their identifications along (KTP - Kartu Tanda Pengenal, identification card).
At 19:00 : The reception ceremony is seldom held at home of either bride or groom, it is usually held in a building or hotel.
If the families of the couple wish to have a traditional wedding ceremony procedure then there are special Minahasa event organizers that could carry this out. And the traditional ceremonial procedure is carried out according to various Minahasa sub-ethnic group traditions, depending on the wishes or the origins of the family of the bride and groom. For example, the Tonsea, Tombulu, Tontemboan version or other Minahasa sub-ethnical group.

The traditional ceremony procedure lasts no longer than 15 minutes and is followed by a word of welcome, the throwing of the bridal flowers, the cutting of the wedding cake, wishes of congratulation, the evening meals and as a final program (closing) there is free dancing that begins with a polonaise.

Wedding Ceremony Procedure in Building or Hotel

Wedding in Tondano
Research of the traditional wedding procedures was done by the Yayasan Kebudayaan Minahasa Jakarta (The Foundation for Minahasa Culture in Jakarta) which was led by Mrs. M. Tengker-Rombot in the year 1986 in the Minahasa. The areas researched were Tonsea, Tombulu, Tondano and Tontemboan by Alfred Sundah, Jessy Wenas, Bert Supit, and Dolf Runturambi. Obviously the four sub-ethnic territories all know the Pinang (betel nut) ceremony, the Tawa'ang ceremony and drink from bambu mugs (kower). Whereas the ceremony of splitting fire wood is only known by sub-ethnic Tombulu and Tontemboan. Tondano knows the ceremony of splitting half a pole of Lawang wood and Tonsea-Maumbi knows the ceremony of splitting Coconut.

After the bride and groom sit on the bridal dais, the traditional ceremony starts with a prayer by the Walian who is called Sumempung (Tombulu) or Sumambo (Tontemboan). Then the "Pinang Tatenge'en" ceremony is carried out Then the Tawa'ang ceremony is done where the bride and groom hold a branch of the Tawa'ang tree and pronounce their pledge and betrothal. The following ceremony is the splitting of fire wood, symbol for food and clothing. The Tontemboan split three pieces of fire wood, the Tombulu split two. Thereafter the bride and groom eat a little rise and fish, then they drink from a mug that is made of two young bamboo shoots that are still green. Then the traditional ceremonial table that was prepared in front of the bride and groom is lifted from the bridal dais stage. The whole traditional party asks permission to be excused from the ceremony. Singing in the local language by a traditional group is called Tambahan (addition - Tonsea) or Zumant (Tombulu).

The language used in the traditional wedding ceremony is of the form literal sub-ethnic Tombulu, Tontemboan, which is of a high level, full of analogy and advice. The traditional wedding procession of Tombulu use Kabasaran dancers as assistants of the Walian (leader of the wedding ceremony). This is because the Kabasaran dancers in the other sub-ethnic territories of the Minahasa have not yet developed like in the territory of Tombulu. The leader of the traditional wedding ceremony is free to improvise the traditional ceremonial language. But the ceremonial object symbols like: Sirih-pinang (betelnuts), Tawa'ang tree and bamboo shoot mugs remain having the same meaning.


2004 by Roderick. All rights reserved.write comments to: