Bali woman ‘marries’ dagger in place of absent groom

Balinese woman, Ni Putu Melina, without a groom at her wedding. Photo: TikTok screengrabs
Balinese woman, Ni Putu Melina, without a groom at her wedding. Photo: TikTok screengrabs

A Bali woman who was stood up on her wedding day “married” a traditional keris dagger in a symbolic ceremony, shining light on a Hindu custom designed to dispel shame from the bride and her family.

Ni Putu Melina, 22, from Blahbatuh District in Gianyar Regency was supposed to marry her boyfriend on Jan. 12. The couple is expecting a child together.

Despite the groom’s initial eagerness and with preparations going smoothly, Melina’s family said the groom pulled out two days before the wedding. His family refused to let him live with the bride and her family at their home, as was previously agreed.

The groom said he wanted to run away from his family to be with Melina at all costs. Not wanting to force the groom to make any rash decisions, Melina’s family decided that she should go ahead with the wedding without him, with a keris taking his place throughout the ceremony.

According to local customs, the keris, which symbolizes manhood, can be a stand-in for absent grooms in cases of death or other circumstances. It was necessary that Melina still went through with her wedding so that the baby she’s carrying won’t be born an illegitimate child.

Footage from Melina’s wedding went viral in Indonesia in recent days, especially on TikTok. Her family said they don’t mind that her heartache has been seen by many in the country.

“We want this to be a lesson for other girls who are looking for a groom,” Melina’s father I Ketut Suwardita said.

It’s unclear if Melina is still in a relationship with the groom, and what that relationship entails if it were the case. While her child may not be seen as illegitimate in the eyes of a traditional community, the Gianyar Regency Population and Civil Registry (Dukcapil) today stressed that Melina is not legally married and, therefore, official documents will say that the child was born to a single mother.

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