Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Dukun Pengantin in Javanese Tradition

The Javanese distinguish between several kinds of dukun, such as dukun wiwit (harvest ritual specialist), dukun sunat (circumcisor), dukun bayi (midwife) and dukun pengantin (wedding specialist).  The last of this, the dukun pengantin, is often referred to by  Javanese as perias pengantin (bride dresser). Those who become dukun pengantin are generally, even almost, married, middle-aged women.
Javanese ideas about making up a bride include the notion of intercession with supernatural forces. The dukun pengantin is supposed to be a mediator who is able to communicate with the supernatural forces to ask t...
heir help in making a bride look beautiful. Furthemore, she has to guide the bride and bridegroom safely through the change from puberty to adulthood and matrimonial life.
The complete Javanese wedding ceremony covers various phases. They are at least peningsetan (the engagement), siraman (the bathing), malam midadareni (the evening of the nymphs), akad nikah (the wedding contract) and panggih (the meeting). Generally, in three of these phases, the assistance of dukun pengantin is required, namely in the bathing ceremony, on the evening of nymphs and at the ceremony of meeting.
The dukun pengantin begins her career as an assistant of an already succesful and experienced dukun pengantin. They must also be a mother. One reason for this is that she is supposed to be able to act as the mother of the bride, especially when the real mother is too busy  receiving guests.  Another reason is that it is hoped that the dukun pengantin's vertility will be transmitted to the bride.  
Our question is what is the role of dukun pengantin in each  phase? In the upacara siraman, the dukun pengantin opens the ceremony by pouring flower water over the bride's head three times. After that she chants an incantation with the aim of causing the nymphs to descend from their abode to give the bride and bridegroom their blessing and to make the bride beautiful. The dukun pengantin terminates the bathing ceremony by dropping the erthenware water jug on the floor. In this moment, the dukun is believed through her invisible power to break the chain that lock in it to enable the bridal radiance to emerge.
On the evening of the nymphs, the role of dukun is to protect the bride againts all of the threats of evil force. The bride, as a person in transitional phase, is threatened by evil forces emanating from other persons and from the universe. Because of the spiritual powers in the dukun person and as result of all the ritual conducted by the dukun pengantin, the good supernatural force is believed to prevent evil  forces from disturbing her.
While during the ceremony of meeting, the dukun pengantin gives the sign to start and give any instructions relating to the very long and various processes until the end.    
Really, the basis of such a role is that Javanese believe that a condition of disorder like in such transitional situation can cause illness or misfortune. The presence of dukun is necessary to protect such people and enable them to pass safely from one stage of life to another.
The condition of a bride and bridegroom is also one of disorder. They are in period of transition from puberty to matrimony. In this case, to safely pass through such a dangerous period, they need the help of a skilled person, like dukun. Yes, sometimes Javanese dukuns ask the fee for their service, but most of them doesn't ask depending on the aggreement before.
In conclussion, the dukun penganten who are almost women play an important role in Javanese tradition especially relating  as mediator to the wedding ceremony.

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