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Jakarta Post

From raincoats to video calls, COVID-19 adds unusual wrinkle to typical Indonesian weddings

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 1, 2020   /   06:28 pm
From raincoats to video calls, COVID-19 adds unusual wrinkle to typical Indonesian weddings The bride and groom of Javanese wedding ceremony. (shutterstock/File)

Apart from hitting the economy hard and throwing the entire healthcare system into disarray, the novel coronavirus pandemic has also served as a particularly unprecedented hindrance to many Indonesian couples who hoped to tie the knot in the recent weeks.

Some had no choice but to call off what was supposed to be one of the happiest occasions of their lives, postponing their plans until after the health crisis has abated, while others have taken the bold approach and gone ahead with their weddings.

In Ngadirejo district, Temanggung, Central Java, the COVID-19 pandemic added an unusual wrinkle to a local wedding ceremony. Instead of being dressed in formal or traditional attire to mark the important milestone, those in attendance – including the groom and the bride – were clad in red translucent raincoats.

As seen in a viral photo, the couple appeared to have tied the knot before the presence of a wedding officiant who was also wearing a facemask and gloves – visual signifiers of the ongoing public health emergency.

Local religious affairs office head Muhlisun confirmed the authenticity of the image to kompas.com, saying that the bride and the groom had undergone a medical check-up at a local community health center (Puskesmas) prior to the ceremony.

“The groom and the bride first underwent a check-up at a nearby Puskesmas. After the medical screening, the groom was found to have a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius,” Muhlisun said on Wednesday, adding that the groom was then designated a suspected patient under treatment (ODP).

In compliance with the advice from the local Puskesmas, the groom and the bride were told to wear plastic raincoats during the wedding ceremony to minimize the risk of infection, he said.

“That’s how it should be – for our own safety. The wedding went [according to plan]. It was done in about 30 minutes,” Muhlisun said, adding that several health workers from the local Puskesmas were also present during the ceremony to ensure public safety.

Central Java has reported 104 confirmed COVID-19 cases and seven deaths as of Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a South Sulawesi couple held their wedding ceremony with a dash of physical distancing, getting hitched via video call.

The groom – a South Sulawesi native who holds a job in Surabaya, East Java – and the bride, who lives in Kolaka district in Kolaka regency, decided to tie the knot digitally and call off their wedding reception to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Kolaka district head Amri said the ceremony went according to plan. The marriage officiant was present with the groom in Surabaya, while the bride was miles away in her home in Kolaka, he said.

He went on to say that the couple had intended to comply with the government’s appeals to limit physical contact and avoid crowds.

Read also: Indonesian couples hold off wedding plans for better days ... after COVID-19

“It was a heartfelt and happy occasion. It was the first time such an event had ever taken place in Kolaka. We are grateful the groom, the bride and their families have complied with the government’s policy,” Amri said.

East Java has recorded 104 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nine fatalities as of Wednesday, whereas South Sulawesi has reported 66 confirmed cases and five deaths from the disease.

Similarly, a couple in Lhokseumawe, Aceh, canceled their wedding reception, but still held a modest wedding ceremony on Sunday.

The couple had originally expected 2,400 guests at the reception.

“So, there’s no wedding reception. We only held a wedding ceremony on March 29 at my in-laws’,” said Mirza, the groom.

He said the family of his bride had removed the tent previously assembled for the wedding reception.

“We chose to comply with the government’s orders, for our own good,” Mirza said.

Of Indonesia's 1,677 coronavirus cases to date, Aceh has recorded five confirmed infections with zero fatalities. 

The archipelago has recorded a total of 157 fatalities linked to the disease, with the country's mortality rate of 9.3 percent currently the highest in the world. (rfa)