Siraman Ceremony

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Siraman means to take a bath. For the couple in the wedding ritual, it means to become clean, their bodies as well as their souls. The Siraman ceremony is usually organised in the afternoon, one day before the Ijab and Panggih rituals. Siraman of the would-be-bride is conducted in her parents' residence. For the would-be-bridegroom, it is conducted in his parents' residence. The place of the Siraman is usually in the family bathroom or in a place specially designed for this purpose (garden). Nowadays the second alternative is more common. The list of persons bathing the couple is important too. Besides the parents, some elderly and distinguished women are invited. They are selected on their good moral behaviour. The number of people giving Siraman is usually limited to seven. Seven in Javanese is Pitu, so they are giving Pitulungan (meaning help).

Several items have to be prepared:

  • A big bowl, usually made of copper or bronze, filled with water from a well or a spring.
  • Setaman flowers - rose, jasmine, magnolia and cananga - to be put in the water.
  • Colourful powder - five colours - functioning as soap.
  • Traditional shampoo and conditioner (ashes of rice straw, coconut milk and tamarind juice).
  • Two coconuts, tied up together, to be used as a water dipper (gayung).
  • A small chair, covered with: old mat - white cloth - several kind of plant leaves - dlingo benglĂ© herbs (plant used in medicines) - bango tulak cloths (four patterns) - lurik (striped woven materials with Yuyu Sekandang and Pula Watu design).
  • White cotton cloth to be worn during Siraman.
  • Batik cloth of Grompol and Nagasari design.
  • Kendi - earthenware flask with a neck and a spout.

The family of the would-be-bride should send an envoy to the family of the would-be-bridegroom, bringing a small bowl of water and flowers. This holy water, called Banyu Suci Perwitosari (symbolising the essence of life) should be poured in the water in the bridegroom's house.

The execution of SIRAMAN:
The would-be-bride/bridegroom comes from her/his room accompanied by the parents. She/he is escorted to the place of Siraman. Some people walk behind them, carrying a tray of batik cloths, towels etc. She/he is seated on the chair. A prayer is offered. The first person to bath her/him is the father. After him comes the mother. Only after them, other (usually older and respected) people can do the ritual.
She/he sits, with both hands in front of the chest, in praying position. They pour water on her/his hands and she/he rinses the mouth three times. Then, they pour water on the head, face, ears, neck, hands and feet three times each. The last person to bath her/him is the Pemaes or a special person assigned. She uses the traditional shampoo and powder to clean her/him. When the Kendi is empty, the Pemaes or the person assigned breaks the kendi on the floor saying: 'Wis Pecah Pamore' - meaning that she/he is handsome (beautiful, is a grown-up now, ready to get married).

NGERIK Ceremony:
After the Siraman, the bride is lead to the wedding room. Her hair is dried with a towel and smoke of perfumed powder (ratus) is passed over her hair. It is combed backwards and strongly tied up in a bun (gelung). After her face and her neck are cleaned, make-up is put on by the Pemaes. At the end, the would-be-bride is dressed with a traditional woman's blouse (kebaya) and batik cloths with a Sidomukti or a Sidoasih design. It symbolises a prosperous life and adoration by other people.

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