After 3 flights and a full 24 hours of travelling, I finally made it to Pontianak, Indonesia, where my friend Nindya was having her wedding over the weekend. As she picked up my friends and I (a few other members from the team had flown over as well), she explained that the wedding decorations were well in place - every intricate detail carefully planned by her and Fajar. The first part of the celebrations, a religious ceremony, would occur on the Friday at Nindya's house while the second part would follow on Saturday at a traditional-styled hall. Both days would draw around 2000 guests that ranged from close family and friends to neighbours from years ago. Not to mention that Nindya herself had 15 bridesmaids while her future mother-in-law would have around 10 as well.
I had met Nindya through a six month exchange program (Canada World Youth) that took us from the cold north of Canada to the islands of Indonesia. Three years later, during May 2017, I was fortunate to also visit Nindya in Leeds, UK while she was studying for her masters. Over this period of time, I came to know and love the cheery girl who hated vegetables but loved the colour pink, and to see her relationship with Fajar grow. Hence, as the first to get married out of our 20 person group, it was momentous to us all. It marked a bitter milestone - beautiful in celebrating love but sad to know that we were all slowly becoming adults. Our group all knew this day would come but never thought it was this close before our eyes.
The wedding was a whirlwind. In between trying to visit the equator and getting my bridesmaid dress hemmed twice, we were lucky enough to share quiet breakfasts with the couple and to meet families from both sides. Nindya looked absolutely stunning - her headpieces were quite heavy and yet she wore them as if they were merely feathers. The henna on her hands were undeniably symmetrical and carried fine lines that wove in and out of her fingers. She carried this grace that seemed as if she had done this a thousand times before, all the time making sure that we were constantly cared for.
The two wedding days were very different in nature. Friday was a sacred occasion and had the couple dressed in white outfits. Fajar had to recite his vows that would officially marry Nindya, after countless prayers in both Indonesian and Arabic. It was also a "giving away" ceremony for Nindya's parents that drew tears from all the elders in the room. Fertility eggs were then given to the guests to symbolize future children for those who seeked it.
Saturday, however, was more festive and involved in flower decorations in every possible corner. The couple changed into traditional red attire (and Nindya had on her 14 cm heels!), and spent four hours at the front of the hall taking pictures with their guests. There was a live band that offered bapaks and ibus a chance to sing before we decided to open up the dance floor to the likes of Bruno Mars and John Legend. My friends and I tried to do our part by greeting guests as they left the hall but quickly abandoned the post as soon as we started sweating from the Southeast Asian heat.
Returning back to Indonesia always bring this sensory nostalgia. Smells of delicious street food, the chaotic traffic to be avoided, and the familiar bahasa swirling around my ears makes me feel like I'm returning home. This would be my third time visiting and yet I always find something new to learn and love when I go back. And now adding to the constant pile of memories is this unforgettable experience for a wonderful friend.
Sending love and congratulations to Nindya and Fajar,
May your marriage be constantly filled with good food, laughter, and companionship!