2014-04-19 Ubud celebrates royal wedding
by Ni Komang Erviani on 2014-04-19
Role play: Tjokorda Gde Dharma Sukawati and his bride Gusti Ayu Mahadewi perform the roles of a farmer and a vendor during the mekalan-kalan ritual, part of the pewiwahan royal ceremony on Friday at Puri Agung Ubud Palace in Gianyar. The role-playing enactment symbolizes their commitment to sustain their new family. (BD/Anggara Mahendra)
Ubud, the little town in Gianyar famous for being a cultural mecca, was abuzz Friday as the influential royal family organized a lavish double wedding ceremony for two of its young princes.
Tourists and locals flocked to Puri Agung Ubud Palace from the early hours of the morning. The former wished to catch a glimpse of the ceremony while the latter brought gifts for the aristocratic family, who have succeeded in transforming their feudal legacy into an influential part of the island’s contemporary political and business landscape.
The bridegrooms both come from illustrious bloodlines. Tjokorda Gde Agung Ichiro Sukawati is the son of Tjokorda Gde Putra Sukawati, a prominent businessman and the current penglingsir (elder) of the royal family, while Tjokorda Gde Dharma Sukawati is the son of Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, the former regent of Gianyar and the current chairman of the Indonesian Hotels and Restaurants Association (PHRI) Bali chapter.
Ichiro married Cokorda Istri Julyana Dewi and Dharma tied the knot with Gusti Ayu Mahadewi. Both brides also hailed from noble families.
Locals from various banjar (traditional neighborhood associations) and desa pekraman (customary villages) around Ubud took turns over the last few days to help the royal family prepare for the weddings.
Puri Agung Ubud, a top tourist attraction known for its elaborately-carved rustic gates as well as classical Balinese dance performances, was sumptuously decorated with fresh flowers and coconut leaves. Dozens of bouquets sent by relatives and business associates lined up the palace’s outer wall.
The ceremony, which lasted for the whole day, started in the morning with the mekalan-kalan ritual and ended with widi-widana.
“The mekalan-kalan ritual marks the bride and bridegroom’s transition from brahmacari to grhasta and their official entrance into family life,” Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati said.
In Hindu teaching, brahmacari is the phase of life when a devotee is expected to commit his or herself to the pursuit of knowledge while grhasta is when building a family is the devotee’s main obligation. The two last phases are wanaprasta, when the devotee should pursue a spiritual path and biksuka is when the devotee renounces all worldly attachments.
Mekalan-kalan also aims at presenting the bride and bridegroom before the butha saksi, the first witness, which comprise the universe, the natural forces and the unseen creatures. In the widi-widana ritual, the bride and bridegroom are brought before the dewa saksi, the third witness comprises the gods and ancestral spirits. The second witness is manusa saksi, comprising all relatives and guests at the ceremony.
During the mekalan-kalan ritual, the couples underwent a series of purification rites before participating in a enactment — which saw the grooms carrying a coconut and some fruit and vegetables on a stick as a symbol of their commitment to his future family, while the brides lightly hit them with a broom, signifying their roles as motivators. The peak of the ritual took place when the grooms used a kris to pierce a rectangular sheet of woven leaves held by the bride, a symbolic act of consummating the marriage.
The mekalan-kalan ceremony was witnessed by many high priests and temple priests from across Bali. It was also witnessed by the grooms’ parents, but not the brides’ parents.
The event continued with the widi-widana ceremony in the evening. The ritual was held in the Bale Agung open pavilion and officiated by two high priests.
“The widi-widana ritual seeks blessing from the God,” Cok Ace said.
After the widi-widana ritual, the brides and groom were taken on open wooden palanquins in a parade from the palace to Merajan Agung, the royal family ancestral temple.
The ceremony was attended by scores of dignitaries, including Deputy Bali Governor Ketut Sudikerta and Buleleng Regent Putu Agus Suradnyana. Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie was seen arriving at the palace’s gate at around 6 p.m.
The mapejati ritual, which is when the grooms pray at the brides’ family temple, will be held on Saturday and Sunday.
The last ritual, megat jalan, will be held on Monday. After the completion of megat jalan, the couples will be allowed to travel outside the palace compound.
On Saturday, Mapejati will be held in Puri Anyar, the royal family house of Cokorda Istri Julyana Dewi and the next day it will be at Puri Kedisan, the royal family house of Gusti Ayu Mahadewi.
Ubud, Royal Cremation Held For Tjokorda Istri Sri Tjandrawati
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UBUD, BALI, INDONESIA – NOVEMBER 01: Balinese dancers perform the classical Gambuh dance during the Royal cremation ceremony on November 1, 2013 in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. Tjokorda Istri Sri Tjandrawati is the late wife of Tjokorda Gde Putra Sukawati, head of Ubud’s ruling family, who died at Mount Elizabeth Hospital on October 14, 2013 in Singapore at the age of 59. More than 100 people have been employed to build a 25 meter high tower which is used to carry the body of the deceased to the cemetery. The cremation ceremony is an important rite which is held for deceased members of the Puri Agung Ubud royal family to show respect to families and the local community. Balinese believe cremation is a purification ceremony that returns Panca Maha Butha (five elements in the universe that formed life) and is also believed to release the body’s spirit so that they may reincarnate. (Photo by Agung Parameswara/Getty Images)
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Ubud, a deceased member of the Ubud royal family will be cremated Tuesday July 15, 2008
A Royal Farewell in Bali
Last Tuesday, on the island of Bali, the head of the royal family of Ubud named Agung Suyasa was laid to rest in a rare, spectacular Royal Funeral – the largest in decades. Suyasa, two other members the royal family, and 68 commoners were cremated in a large Hindu ceremony – their bodies having been previously preserved, awaiting cremation, which is traditionally believed to free their souls for future reincarnation. (13 photos total)
Balinese men prepare a giant bull sarcophagus in which a deceased member of the Ubud royal family will be cremated before the cremation ceremony Tuesday July 15, 2008 in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. Balinese royalty and dozens of other prominent Balinese from Ubud were cremated Tuesday in a rare and elaborate ceremony for deceased royals. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)
Balinese men prepare to lift a giant bull in which a deceased member of the Ubud royal family will be cremated during the funeral procession Tuesday July 15, 2008, in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)
Thousands of people join the procession prior to the Balinese royals cremation ceremony in Ubud, Bali on July 15, 2008. The remains of two Balinese royals were cremated before some 250,000 loyal subjects after being carried through this hillside town in huge spinning pyres representing the universe. (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Balinese dancers perform during a procession of Pelebon or The Royal Cremation Ceremony in Ubud, on the Indonesian island of Bali, July 13, 2008. The bodies head of Ubud Royal family Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa, his nephew Tjokorda Raka, his aunt Desak Raka, and 68 Ubud villagers will be cremated on July 15. The cremation ceremony is a ritual, believed by locals, to send the dead to their next lives. (REUTERS/Beawiharta)
People carry the black bull sarcophagus and a tower prior to the Balinese royals cremation ceremony in Ubud, Bali ilsand on July 15, 2008. (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
Men play “sulings”, traditional music instruments, during the procession of Pelebon or The Royal Cremation Ceremony in Ubud, on the Indonesian island of Bali, July 14, 2008. (REUTERS/Beawiharta)
People welcome and watch the black bull sarcophagus en route to the Balinese royals cremation ceremony in Ubud, Bali on July 15, 2008. (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
People carry a bull sarcophagus during a procession of Pelebon or The Royal Cremation Ceremony in Ubud, on the Indonesian island of Bali, July 13, 2008. (REUTERS/Beawiharta)
Balinese men walk away after setting alight a giant bull in which a deceased member of the Ubud royal family is cremated in during the funeral ceremony Tuesday July 15, 2008, in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. Balinese royalty and dozens of other prominent Balinese from Ubud were cremated Tuesday in a rare and elaborate ceremony for deceased royals.(AP Photo/Ed Wray)
A bull sarcophagus in which a member of the Ubud royal family was cremated burns during the funeral ceremony Tuesday July 15, 2008 in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)
Black bull sarcophagi are set alight during the cremation of two Balinese royals in Ubud, Bali island on July 15, 2008. (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
A black bull sarcophagus is set alight during the cremation of two Balinese royals in Ubud on Bali island on July 15, 2008. (BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images)
A Balinese man attends a cremation fire as the last bit of a mythical dragon known as a Naga is burning during a ceremony for a deceased member of the Ubud royal family on Tuesday July 15, 2008 in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Ed Wray)
Ubud, Princely Practice
An estimated fifteen thousand people flocked to Ubud on July 15th to witness the cremation ceremony of three members of the Ubud royal family and 68 members of the community. This majestic ‘Palebon’ ceremony required almost three months of preparation. Among the royals to be cremated was Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa, former head of the Ubud royal family and Ubud’s ‘Bendesa’-chief advisor on matters of tradition, religion and Balinese culture—for more than three decades. The much loved and respected prince was the grandson of the last King of Ubud, Tjokorda Gede Sukawati, who reigned from 1880 until 1917. BY RACHEL GREAVES
Now that Tjokorda Gde Agung Suyasa’s soul has been liberated, does this mean there will be some changes in the royal household? Who better to answer this question than Tjokorda Raka Kerthyasa, who oversaw the cremation in his role as guardian of this ancient yet symbolic royal family.
Exotiq: What does the title ‘Tjokorda’ mean?
Tjok Raka: It comes from the warrior caste, the second caste; our ancestors were the rulers of the Kingdom of Bali in the 16th century.
Exotiq: Does that mean you’re a prince?
Tjok Raka: Yes, we are all princes now in the royal family.
Exotiq: And the cremation was that of your brother?
Tjok Raka: My half brother.
Exotiq: So why is there no longer a king?
Tjok Raka: Because at the Declaration of Independence, we agreed to be under one umbrella within the Republic of Indonesia. We no longer have legal power, but the palace is still there.
Exotiq: So what was your brother’s role?
Tjok Raka: He was respected for his wisdom, his knowledge, his profession and his compassion, and was therefore trusted to lead our family and many of the villages. Our family’s ancestors were rulers, so the community already had an emotional attachment to the palace and still chose to continue the tradition. Because of this, people would sometimes refer to my brother informally as ‘king’. But who’s going to be ‘king’ now?
Exotiq: Well, that was my next question.
Tjok Raka: (laughing), well, that’s also my question. You see it’s just symbolic; we don’t govern or have a system of power now that we’re part of the Republic.
Exotiq: Surely as a family you have a certain amount of power in Ubud, in the way that Ubud is managed and run?
Tjok Raka: Well, any power that we have is gained through the respect of the people, but we don’t have the right to tell people what to do.
Exotiq: Correct me if I am wrong, but I was told that it was your family that has stopped McDonalds and other fast food chains from coming to Ubud?
Tjok Raka: Yes, that’s because people trust us to come up with the right ideas, and then to take those ideas to the government with the support of the community. If we want to protect or preserve our cultural image, we have to minimise the issues that may destroy that image. So for certain concerns, the heads of the villages will still come to my family and to me for advice.
Exotiq: What is your job?
Tjok Raka: That’s a very hard question to answer. You know, I don’t have a profession but I am a member of parliament in Gianyar for the Golkar party. I am also president of the Bali Heritage Trust, so I have some knowledge and experience in that field. Additionally, we have the Ibah Hotel, and we also have a foundation—Suta Dharma School, which is very popular in Ubud. I am a consultant for the villages in terms of social conflicts and any problems among the community, together with issues such as building a temple or fixing a
Exotiq: How do you feel about property development in Bali?
Tjok Raka: We have to look at it from all perspectives because sometimes it creates a conflict of interest. Economically, it helps the Balinese, but it has a huge impact environmentally, socially, politically and in terms of infrastructure. The volume of people in cars and on the roads is affecting the daily activities of the people of Bali, and
Exotiq: But there is less development here in Ubud than further south?
Tjok Raka: It’s slower here because of the contours of the land; it’s hard to find big flat land in Ubud, which is fortunate. We have great people with great ideas but action is also needed. It has to be a winwin solution and that can only happen with cooperation and mutual respect.
Exotiq: Were you the first in your family to marry a foreigner?
Tjok Raka: No, my uncle, Tjokorda Raka Sukawati, married a lady from Paris. He was the first president of East Indonesia, under the Dutch, for one year in 1949. Then another of my uncles married a Dutch lady, and now many of my nephews are married to Japanese and Australians. It’s not always easy to cross the cultures but at the same time I have learned so much universally by marrying outside of my culture.
Exotiq: How do you feel about so many foreigners coming to Bali and moving in on your island?
Tjok Raka: Our philosophy is to welcome our guests, and it has been this way for many centuries in Bali. This is our etiquette.
Exotiq: Tjok Raka, thank you for your time.
Tjok Raka: My pleasure.
Images by Neal Hornaffer