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Jakarta Post

Megesah: ‘Torturing’ the newlyweds

Wed, July 19, 2017   /   12:19 am
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    Novi and Kadek sit in front of a priest during a Balinese traditional wedding on Feb. 2. JP/Anggara Mahendra

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    Kadek and Novi follow the ritual of a Balinese traditional wedding at Banjar Taman Yangbatu village in Denpasar on Feb. 2. JP/Anggara Mahendra

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    Kadek and Novi perform Hindu prayers during the ceremony at Banjar Taman Yangbatu, Denpasar, on Feb. 2. JP/Anggara Mahendra

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    Villagers tease Novi, who was married the day before, by asking intimate questions about her love life. JP/Anggara Mahendra

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    Kadek, the groom, laughs while watching his wife perform during the Megesah ceremony at Banjar Taman Yangbatu village, Denpasar. JP/Anggara Mahendra

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    Relatives smile as Novi performs during the Megesah ceremony. JP/Anggara Mahendra

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    Novie is surrounded by members of a youth group at Banjar Taman Yangbatu village, Denpasar. They ask her personal questions during the Megesah ceremony. JP/Anggara Mahendra

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    Novie, the bride, laughs when the Banjar Taman Yangbatu youth group urges her to kiss her husband, Kadek, as a symbol of living in harmony in their married life. JP/Anggara Mahendra

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    A glass of coffee, snacks and cigarettes are served on a table. The coffee is usually mixed with sugar and shrimp paste as a prank to symbolize the potential hardships of married life. JP/Anggara Mahendra

Novie, a bride, has to face questions from family members on her relationship with her new husband a day after their wedding — questions such as when she started dating him or how many boyfriend she had before finding her true love.

In the Kadek family of Banjar Taman Yangbatu, Denpasar, the bride or groom will face such questions in a tradition called Megesah. The tradition is to familiarize a groom or a bride with his/her new partner’s family members and their neighbors.

No one knows when the tradition started, but according to Pak Tu, a pecalang (traditional guard), Megesah is a tradition that dates back to the 1940s, since the establishment of Rukun Pemuda Taman (RPT), or neighborhood youth group.

The youth group teases the newly wedded couple as a symbol for challenges and temptations that they will face in the future.

Usually, the brides seem uncomfortable as the RPT members often raise questions about sex, their past love lives or their reasons to get married. Family members only laugh when see the brides' reactions.

Despite the sensitive questions, most RPT “interviewers” deliver them with humor to help the new couple adapt with their new environment. They will then invite the couple to enjoy coffee, Balinese snacks and cigarettes (for the groom).

The coffee, though, is not regular black coffee as the youths usually add shrimp paste or sliced chili as a prank on the new couple. This also symbolizes the tests that they will face in the future. [yan]