Once my fiancé and I decided to elope to Bali, I did some searching around to see what type of ceremonies were available. I wanted more than the typical “I Do’s.” Not that there’s anything wrong with them. I just wanted something that encompassed the spirit of the place we had chosen as our wedding location. Something that felt more exotic, but was still steeped in tradition. That’s how I happened upon the perfect answer for us, the Balinese Blessing Ceremony.
The funny thing is, it was hard to find information on the actual ceremony other than what the typical wedding coordinators list on their websites. I didn’t want to just know what was included in the cost of the wedding package; I wanted to know what exactly was going to be done. And more importantly, what it meant. But, it wasn’t until the day before our wedding that I actually got my hands on that information from our own wedding coordinators at Romantic Weddings.
If you are asking the same questions we were, here is the breakdown provided to us:
The Balinese Blessing Ceremony
1. The Mangku (priest) twinkles the bell to speak to the God (in Sanskrit mantra) that today a sacred wedding is about to be performed.
2. The bride and groom receive this Balinese dadap leaf, holy water, and burnt rice, which means purification and cleansing of the body and the spirit. The assistant priest then burns 3 stalks of bamboo on fire to symbolize the burning of any sinful past as individuals by the God Brahma (Batara Brahma).
3. The bride and groom receive holy water on their chests to purify and prepare their hearts for a blessed marriage.
4. The bride and groom receives coconut water on their heads using a palm leaf (three times), and their hands to drink (three times), and then on their hand to wipe on top of their heads (one time).
5. Muspa—The bride and groom pray:
- Putting both hands together and raise between eyebrows.
- The first Muspa: Holding flowers between the two hands and raising them between the eyebrows. This is to ask Dewa Surya (the God of the Sun) to share with us His compassionate radiance to the people of the world.
- The second Muspa: Holding ‘Kwangen’ (little flower arrangement) between the two hands and raising them between the eyebrows. This is to ask the specific God of the Padmasana (this small tower/temple protecting the hotel) so that we will always be protected and safe.
- The third Muspa: Using similar ‘Kwangen’ to pray to all the holy Gods and Goddesses to always give us happiness and health.
- Muspa Puyung: To show gratitude for everything that we have, every blessing of life that we have received until now.
- Muspa Puyung: Praying without holding flowers. This is to concentrate and centralize all the senses to ask Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa (the highest God) for purity of the soul.
6. The wedding couple moves near the source of fire.
7. The assistant priest takes floral water using a coconut shell and pours on a bamboo cylinder, symbolizing straining all the past shadows of wrongdoings. The bride and groom then gurgle this water three times.
8. The couple stand and go around the offerings on the table (the groom in front and the bride behind him) three times.
9. Metimpug-timpung tipat gandhu- Throwing the ball made from palm leaves, to symbolize playful communication and a balanced cooperation between the bride and the groom.
10. Nues tikeh dadakan—The bride and groom tear green pandanus arrangement together to symbolize the opening a new door of life.
11. The bride and groom step on an empty coconut shell with an egg inside to leave their single lives and start a life together as parents.
12. Megat benang—The bride and groom cut a white thread together, symbolizing the entrance of a new life together.
13. Daksina—The bride carries a palm leaf arrangement with egg, rice, and ancient coins symbolizing the nurturing wife who manages a harmonious home, and walks in front, while the groom walks behind the bride chasing her with thin, long bamboo stick (lidi), around the offerings three times, occasionally (playfully) hitting the wife with the thin long lidi symbolizing the guy as the head of the family who stirs the family in the rightful and prosperous direction.
14. The groom and bride sit down again and receive rice on the back of their palms. The priest brings a duck to kiss the forehead of the bride and groom three times and then lowers the duck to eat the rice from the hands (three times). Same thing afterwards with a chicken. The duck and chicken are believed to be holy animals bringing prosperity to the couple, so that everything they do together thereafter would be fruitful and successful.
15. The bride and groom then take whichever treat or fruit they want from the traditional fruit and cake tower, and feed a bite to each other to symbolize continuous caring and love between one another.
That’s it. That’s the ceremony. And now you’ve got the answer to the age-old question, “Why is that duck eating rice off of those nice people’s foreheads?”
Photo courtesy of Travel Betty