Life in Motion

Keeping Traditions in a Modern Society

I come from a chinese-Indonesian family. We're of chinese descent but our family has lived in Indonesia for quite awhile. As in, our great grandparents came from China to Indonesia. We're not quite Chinese but not quite Indonesian, and throughout the years the two cultures have blended in our minds. Add the fact that I am a millennial, and also the fact that modernization and globalization have blurred the lines between cultures. Naturally, I have very little knowledge about any kind of tradition that my family used to have. "Sangjit" is a ceremony that is the predecessor of the modern "engagement". It is a proposal for marriage by the groom's family to the bride's family. The groom's family usually brings baskets of offerings and gifts to the bride's house and the number of baskets varies from 10 to 24. Each basket contains different things that each serves as a symbol. For example, a basket of sweet fruits symbolizes peacefulness, welfare and fortune (I literally just learned this days before our Sangjit ceremony).

I am personally really big on keeping traditions. I love the simplicity of the modern world but I also adore the beauty of meaningful traditions. However it is quite hard nowadays to follow the original traditions because the knowledge often has not been passed down, and since each family's tradition is unique, you can't really just "google it". To avoid any unnecessary confusion, my family decided that we wanted to do this Sangjit procession in a slightly simplified manner. We didn't have a lot of time to prepare, and we didn't want to buy too much stuff (because we wouldn't be able to bring it back to the US anyway), so we chose to only do 6 baskets instead of the average of 12. We had a basket of fruits, a basket of Angpao (the red envelope that contains monetary gifts to the bride's family), 2 baskets of my personal belongings, one basket for Sean's personal belongings, and a basket containing wine.

Filling 6 baskets of stuff was already hard enough.. we really can't imagine doing anything more than that. Traditionally, this ceremony is held at the bride's house, so the groom's family would come over with the gift baskets. Because we chose to do it at a local restaurant, we modified the processional a little bit. Michelle's family waited in the reserved room while the groom's family came bringing the boxes in. Each box is given by a person from the groom's side and received by a person from the bride's side. According to our family's tradition, there are certain items that then must be taken by the bride's mom, such as the Angpao as a gift for taking care of the Bride. There are also items that need to be split in half, such as the wine and the fruits, and each family takes half of the portions.

 We were very fortunate to have met wonderful vendors along the way that helped us with this process (some turned out to be friends of friends.. what a small world!). Special thanks to Just Hampers (@justhampers) for preparing and decorating these beautiful boxes, Flower Wall (@flowerwallproject) for making us an insanely awesome flower backdrop and Michelle Laksmono (@michellelaksmonodesign) for designing an awesome modern batik for us to wear. And also not to forget Sisy (@Sisymakeupartist) who did such a beautiful job with my makeup, and turned out to be my middle school senior!

Last but not least , we also want to mention the excellent service provided by Putien PIK Avenue. I actually had extreme gastric pains during the processional, and one of the staff members noticed and volunteered to run to the clinic to get medicine for me - how thoughtful! Not to mention the delicious food there. 

We were also blessed to be able to celebrate Sean's birthday during this processional. It was surely a day to remember. We'd love to share some pictures with you!