December 17, 2010

Made is getting married!

Made Suarta aka Made Pintar (Smart Made) got married to his long time sweetheart Ketut Sepi (Quiet Ketut). Not only Ketut is quiet and beautiful, she is very patient as well since Made and her dated for 8 years!

Marriage in Bali is one of the last life passages rituals that every Balinese will go through, from birth to death. As in the rest of the world, it is a very important life event and many things have to be prepared. 
First, the Pemangku, the villlage priest, finds an auspicious date for the bride to move in with the groom and chooses another auspicious date for the cerenomy to take place. There is always a lapse of time between these two dates; during that time the bride and groom have to stay in the house compound and are not allowed to leave the property. Made and Ketut had to stay home for 5 days but sometimes, as in the case of one of Komang's friend, it was 34 days!
A high priest is contacted and arrangements are made for him or her to come and  perform the ceremony on the chosen day. Since that day is auspicious for more than one couple, they are in high demand and sometimes the ceremony is very early before sunrise or late in the day, depending of their busy schedule.

It takes a lot of people to prepare for the wedding, many offerings have to be made in the week preceding the ceremony and they all will grace the house and the temple on the wedding day.

All the people who come and give their time to help are offered breakfast and lunch, therefore, there is a special crew of people whose sole occupation is to cook (and need to eat too). It is not rare to have at least 50 people helping every day.
At night, someone (similar to a husher in the West) stands at the entrance door and welcome the guests with a happy "Om Swastyastu", the Balinese words of greetings and protection.

The presents of sugar and rice, piled in a basket and covered by a crocheted top are received by a member of the family and placed in big bags.

These will be distributed amongst all the helpers after the ceremony. No wedding list at Bloomingdale's here, a marriage is not about receiving material presents, it is about a community coming together for this very important occasion. Most of what has been given by someone will be given back to someone else. It is a circle of thankfulness and understanding that, when we all share, we all have plenty.

Jaja Nganten
These beautiful small cakes are made for weddings and represent the union between a man and a woman.

At night, an area is set up for the preparation of the drinks and cakes which are given to the arriving guests. Young girls pass around the guests with coffee or tea and a plate of Jaja, the little cakes all Balinese love to nibble on. 

Dadar Unti
 Crêpes with Coconut and Palm Sugar filling
make 12
Crêpes batter:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup rice flour
2 eggs, beaten lightly
1 Tbsp sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 tsp vanilla essence or 1 vanilla bean, seeds sraped
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water

Coconut filling:
1 cup  fresh grated coconut
1 pandan leaf tied in a knot
1tsp vanilla essence
5oz of palm sugar
3/4 cup water

Sift the flours into a bowl. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, salt, sugar and coconut milk, add the flours, whisking until smooth. Add water. Let rest for 2 hours.

To make the filling, put the palm sugar, water, pandan leaf and simmer until the liquid has somewhat reduced, about 10 to 15 minutes. Strain the syrup and remove the leaf. put the grated coconut in a pan, add the syrup and cook for 3 minutes at low heat. If the mixture seems runny, add some grated coconut.

Brush a small frying pan with a pat of butter, add 1/4 cup batter, swirl it around (it should be very thin) cook until set on the edges, flip it and cook 2 minutes longer. turn out of the pan the crêpe and keep covered with a towel, repeat until all the batter is used.
Fill each crêpe with 2 tablespoons of filling and roll like a spring roll.

The night before the wedding, after all the offerings have been made, it is time to prepare the feast for the wedding. Pigs and chickens have to be killed, spice pastes, satés, lawar and the rice are cooked during the night and will be first placed in the temple as offerings to the gods.  
On the morning of the wedding, a stylist arrives early to prepare the bride and groom. They will be dressed like a Prince and a Princess for the day, wearing the rich (and heavy) Songket woven with gold threads, jewelry and flowers in their hair. 

The Pedanda, most of the time a Shiwa priest, will arrive and perform the ceremony sitting on the temple altar, chanting the rituals mantras in Sanskrit accompanied by the haunting sound of his bell, tying knots in a leaf of alang alang for Made and Ketut to place around their forehead protecting them from the kala, the unseen negative forces (what we would call the demons) and giving them the Tirta, the sacred water scented with flower petals, to drink. And everyone will pray.

And then, all will have been done. Tomorrow will be a new day in the life of Ketut and Made.

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