Traditional Parmalim Wedding

This weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a traditional Parmalim Wedding in the town of Sibadihon, Porsea in Toba Samosir. The only weddings I have ever attended are traditional Westernized weddings.

These wedding ceremonies have taken place anywhere from a church, courthouse, or outdoor venue. The ceremony is usually brief..anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes, and is usually dictated by religious beliefs such as a Catholic ceremony, for example, which usually lasts longer or non-religious, which is derived from a simple Anglican ceremony in the Book of Common Prayer, and can be performed in less than ten minutes. There’s usually a few speeches from close friends, family members, etc, and the ceremony doesn’t start until the father walks the soon-to-be bride down the isle to her future husband who cheerfully and nervously awaits her while tears form from the people in the audience. Blah blah blaaahhhhh. After the wedding ceremony, the reception starts and that’s just code for a great time!

0BA51F30-A459-4F03-A911-3EE5986E2F69In this wedding, I had no idea what to expect! The day began on Saturday morning, 8/26/17 bright and early at 9:00am. We arrived to the home of the bride around 10:30, took pictures and were sent to the home where the ceremony would take place. Men sat on one side of the room, and women sat on the other side. Our shoes were removed before entering the home, and we sat on the ground while the priest recited prayer for about 90 minutes. The bride and groom sat in front of the room together while the audience of about 85 or so people sat and listened. The bride is the librarian at my school, so I am very honored that I was asked to be a part of such a special day in her life. After the prayers were recited, the ceremony was over and they were officially husband and wife.

In this particular wedding ceremony, the families practice the  Parmalim religion; the modern form of the Batak Religion. This religion spread at the end of the 19th century/beginning of the 20th century and originated in the Toba Lands. The Malim religion became an expression of anti-colonialism from the Dutch and a majority of the descendants of this religion are primarily Toba Batak. The largest groups reside in Laguboti, on the south shore of Lake Toba. Since the Malim religion was formed as an expression of anti-colonialism, there are a few similarities with Islam, including prohibition against the consumption of pork. Unlike a traditional western style wedding, the bride did not wear a white dress and after the ceremony, everyone sat together in another home and ate a meal containing beef and rice. The ceremony was over at about 2pm and off we went back home!

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