Jokowi’s big Javanese wedding for second son

December 12, 2022

JAKARTA – With 6,000 invitations delivered, including to VIPs and foreign dignitaries, the nuptials of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s second son, Kaesang Pangarep, to Erina Gudono held over the weekend in Surakarta, Central Java, and neighboring Yogyakarta have all the hallmarks of the wedding of the year.

The 27-year-old businessman tied the knot with Erina, 26, an education advocate for marginalized communities and a former beauty queen, on Saturday in a Muslim wedding ceremony at Yogyakarta’s Pendopo Agung Royal Ambarrukmo, a cultural heritage site and part of the Kedaton Ambarrukmo complex.

Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono served as a witness for the groom, while State Secretary Pratikno performed the same role for the bride. The newlyweds were then treated to a series of marital advice from Vice President Ma’ruf Amin. “Align your intentions, make it so your marriage is seen as an act of service to Allah [God],” said the senior Muslim cleric.

Speaking to the media after the ceremony, Jokowi wished the newlyweds a happily ever after, jokingly remarking that he hoped the wedding might encourage his son to be more serious.

“Kaesang tends to be carefree and now that he has a wife, I advise him to be just a bit more serious,” said the President.

While the wedding ceremony itself saw only 150 invitations delivered, the event received extensive media coverage, with the whole nation welcomed to partake in the celebrations. Sunday’s reception was a comparatively much larger affair, with some 6,000 invitations sent to attend the festivities in Surakarta.

Among the invited guests were several foreign dignitaries, including United Arab Emirates (UAE) President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, popularly known as MBZ.

The relationship between Jokowi and MBZ has blossomed in recent years, with the two jointly inaugurating the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Surakarta in November, a miniaturized replica of a mosque of the same name in Abu Dhabi as a gift from the oil-rich nation.

While MBZ ended up skipping the reception, his son Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed, came in his stead and was personally welcomed at the new mosque by Jokowi.

Former presidents Megawati Soekarnoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also attended the Sunday reception, with the latter accompanied by his son Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, who has ramped up his criticism of Jokowi in the past year.

Former Jakarta governor and NasDem Party-backed presidential hopeful Anies Baswedan also made an appearance together with his wife during his safaris across the country. Other notable figures include another former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama and Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

Given the scale of the event, Jokowi pulled out all the stops in making sure the event went smoothly. He asked State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Erick Thohir to organize the event, given Erick’s experience in organizing the 2018 Asian Games. Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Andika Perkasa was on hand to secure the proceedings.

“Counting all police and TNI members involved, we’ve deployed 11,800 security personnel [for today’s event],” Andika said on Sunday, as reported by Kompas.

Following Javanese traditions, Sunday’s event began in the early morning at the Surakarta mayor’s official residence, Loji Gandrung, with ngunduh mantu, a series of ceremonies in which the groom’s family welcomed the bride into theirs.

The observance of traditional Javanese rituals is important for Jokowi, who hoped that the public could appreciate the display.

“We do this ngunduh mantu for [Kaesang and Erina] as a way for us to nguri-uri [maintain] our cultural heritage because they’re a gift from our ancestors,” Jokowi said on Sunday.

The newlyweds and their families then embarked on 10 carriages in a kirab (parade-like traditional procession) to the Mangkunegaran Palace where the reception was set to take place. A total of 81 officers from the Surakarta Sultanate led the procession, while a series of public performances were held along Jl. Slamet Riyadi for the public to enjoy.

Surakarta residents and Jokowi’s supporters came in droves to see the procession.

“We came to [Surakarta] to witness the ngunduh mantu and the reception of Kaesang and Erina because of our love for Jokowi,” said Supriyanto, a Jokowi supporter from Banyumas, Central Java, as quoted by Antara.

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