The Journey to Kebumen (Part III): The Wedding

By Irfan Nugroho
It took us about an hour to reach Kebumen from the Kutoarjo train station.

To those having such a trip first time, I do highly recommend you not to take mini bus as it takes longer.

Well, up to this writing gets published, it costs 4,000 IDR to get to Kebumen from Purworejo.
Acting out like a "bill collector", Ii Ariyani was collecting our money to go to Kebumen
Cheap enough to enjoy the green scenery around, with some other bonuses like the fresh air and the smiling people of Kebumen “the believing district”.
Indeed, I was surprised to know this small city upholds a slogan saying, “Kebumen, Beriman” literally meaning “Kebumen, the (Islamic) believing city.”

I tried to as Ii Ariyani – who is a native of this city – about the “why aspect” behind the slogan.

She, then, told me that this city has a number of Islamic boarding schools, and therefore a great number – I can even say that the majority – of women there wear Islamic Hijab (headscarves).

I was convinced more about the strong Islamic influence in this city when we finally arrived at the wedding ceremony of our friend named Khattim Natsir.

The wedding alone was not held glitteringly, but that was my first time to see how Islam is interpreted and ‘modified’ innocently by the surrounding Islamic scholars.

Just like the other places in Indonesia – mostly in the eastern part of Java – Kebumen is densely populated by the Nahdiyin Muslims – followers of the biggest Islamic organization called Nahdlatul Ulama.

This group, in recent days, tends to be ‘traditionalist’ for its ways of spreading the Islam by using the traditional culture, especially the Javanese culture.

The history of Islam in Indonesia alone cannot be separated from such a practice, just like what the Wali Songo (nine prominent Islamic scholars in the past) did to introduce Islam by using the puppetry show.

The same situation I encountered at my friend’s wedding ceremony, in which the ceremony was held in the Javanese culture but the language for the entire ceremony was Arabic, headed by a local famous Islamic scholar.
More strangely, the ceremony was ended with a music performance by local female singers, who wore Islamic dresses but sang un-Islamic dangdut-like songs! Hmmm...

Unfortunately, we could not follow the whole sessions of the ceremony.

The time we got there, an Islamic sermon was being delivered by an Islamic scholar whose Quran recitation is totally awesome, indeed!
The Islamic scholar delivering the sermon was standing on the right in blue
And I must admit that the Nahdiyin people are well-known for their fluent Arabic and beautiful Quran recitation.

However, this session was very frustrating for me personally.

It was because there were some points of his sermon that are not available in either the Quran or Hadith.

Totally different from me, the surrounding people looked very happy and were very entertained with the scholar’s sermon.

I must say that, his sermon was full of joke and no one was fallen asleep; and this encouraged people to memorize the jokes rather than the messages, indeed.

Time went by, and the meal session had come. For Annga, Taubah, and me, this was what we were waiting for so long because we had not had a breakfast till the noon of that day.

Pretending to be shy, the houselord had to order us to have a meal twice.

For your information, you must be a little bit shy when you are ordered to eat by someone in the Javanese culture.

Just wait till he/she offers you twice or thrice, and you may eat them. Instantly taking the meal at once order is considered impolite.

Time pointed at 10:50 AM, and we had got all what we wanted at the ceremony; feasting and taking photographs with the couple.
We asked for permission from the houselord, and left the wedding party for another party. What was that? Read the next part of the Journey to Kebumen.