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Love and Courtship in Indonesian Culture Posted by on Feb 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

In Indonesia, where family plays an important role in partner selection, a courtship and finding the right partner is a family affair. Most parents believe that the best candidates for their future daughter or son-in-law should have a good background based on the crucial aspects of “Bibit, Bebet, Bobot” which has a Javanese origin, referring respectively to family wealth, social rank, and ancestry.  Parents believe that their future in-laws should at least come from the same social status and religion.

Cincinkawin

Indonesian culture places higher importance on the acceptance and approval of community or family. Therefore, at the early courtship, both sides try their best to be accepted by their parents. There is a saying in Indonesia, “Kalau kita menikah, kita juga menikah dengan keluarga” which means when you marry your girlfriend or boyfriend, you also marry the family. The engagement period is rarely recognized in Indonesia, as the couples move to the marital stages soon after a long courtship.

 

PengantinJawa

BukuNikah

Young people in Indonesia usually develop a romantic interest in Junior High School (Sekolah Menengah Pertama or SMP) when they are around 12 years of age.  Even though, they are involved in a romantic relationship (berpacaran or pacaran), they spend most of their time with friends, siblings or family.  They rarely go out on their own.  Parents usually urge their youngster to focus on education and discourage them from having an early romantic relationship.  They often tell their children that they are “masih kecil”, meaning, they are still a child or too young to date.

Young men who have a romantic relationship while they are still in Middle School or High School, commonly visit the girl in her house.  Although a boyfriend may visit his girlfriend on Malam Minggu (Saturday Night), they spend time with the girlfriend’s family. They watch TV, have interesting conversations, or play guitar and sometimes, the boyfriend also brings with him his male friends to hang out with them.

pacaran

When couples go out, they usually go to the movies, eat at street food vendors “warung” while having a conversation to get to know each other better. They don’t show physical intimacy openly, but holding hands is acceptable.  However, Indonesians are increasingly doing more than just holding hands in public.  “Kencan” or dating is also gaining acceptance in Indonesian society as a path that does not always lead to long courtships and marriage.

 

Related terms and words:

Indonesian English
Malam Minggu Saturday night
Berpacaran or pacaran Exclusive dating
Kencan Dating
Pacar Boyfriend or Girlfriend
Bertunangan To Engage with someone
Tunangan Fiancé or fiancée
Menikah To be married; married
Calon mertua Future in-laws
Berpegangan tangan Holding hands
Cinta monyet Monkey love

Images were taken from Flickr.com/creative commons

1. By Lan Rasso

2. by Dony Ismanto

2. by Tamahaji

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About the Author:asimonoff

I’m an Indonesian language instructor, instructional material developer, reading test developer, and interpreter. I have been teaching Indonesian to adult students for 15 years, and have been teaching students from many backgrounds, such as private, military and diplomatic service employees. I’m Indonesian, but am living in the US now; my exposure to different cultures in my home country and in the US has enriched my knowledge in teaching Indonesian as a second language. I approach the teaching of the Indonesian language by developing students’ critical cultural awareness and competence. This method of teaching has been proven to be a key to the success of my students. Students become conscious of the essential role culture plays in the language.


Comments:

  1. Neil Thrift:

    My story is not much of a story to tell, but hey …

    I have just suffered is a very serious car accident together with a young Beautiful Indonesian girl sitting next to me and I would love to say to her in her language this please!!… please this would mean a lot to me…has our language barrier was very bad.

    Please translate from the next paragraph, thank you !!

    ” I’m Australian and I had no idea what you was saying to me, when we had the serious car crash.
    (we were both sitting and on the back left hand passenger side of our vehicle, the vehicle that crashed into us T-bone us and hit us on the left-hand side back passenger drivers door)

    you were pointing at your back and trying to move, I held you still and tried to stop you from keep you from moving and saying to you ..no move .. no move .. you was crying because my blood was leaking from my head very bad, like a spring waterfall, you was trying to wipe the blood from my face .. I was in pretty bad shape and you was there looking after me, and I was trying to look after you.

    But we made it together. I have ended with 4 broken ribs and a fracture pelvis on the left hand side.

    If I didn’t hold you at the moment of impact, you could have been dead,

    If it wasn’t the seat belts or the airbags..

    I’m glad that we are still alive….”

    Please help me translate this so I can give this to her.
    I would really appreciate your help and got bless

    • asimonoff:

      @Neil Thrift Hi Neil, Sorry to hear about your car accident, I am glad to hear you and your friend survived. This is the translation “how to say it in Indonesian”. I hope this will help.

      I’m Australian and I had no idea what you was saying to me, when we had the serious car crash.
      (we were both sitting and on the back left hand passenger side of our vehicle, the vehicle that crashed into us T-bone us and hit us on the left-hand side back passenger drivers door)
      you were pointing at your back and trying to move, I held you still and tried to stop you from keep you from moving and saying to you ..no move .. no move .. you was crying because my blood was leaking from my head very bad, like a spring waterfall, you was trying to wipe the blood from my face .. I was in pretty bad shape and you was there looking after me, and I was trying to look after you.

      But we made it together. I have ended with 4 broken ribs and a fracture pelvis on the left hand side.
      If I didn’t hold you at the moment of impact, you could have been dead,
      If it wasn’t the seat belts or the airbags..

      I’m glad that we are still alive….”

      Saya orang Australia. Saya tidak tahu apa yang katakan kepada saya waktu kita mengalami kecelakaan mobil (Kita berdua duduk di sebelah kiri bagian tempat duduk penumpang mobil yang kita naiki. Mobil penabrak menambrak mobil kita dari samping kiri bagian pintu penumpang)

      Kamu menunjuk punggung kamu dan mencoba untuk bergerak. Saya memeluk kamu agar kamu tidak bergerak dan saya mengatakan …jangan bergerak…jangan bergerak…kamu menangis..karena darah mengucur dari kepala saya dan kelihatannya parah, mengucur seperti air mancur. Kamu mencoba menyeka/membersihkan darah di muka saya.

      Kondisi saya parah, kamu waktu itu mencoba merawat saya tapi di saat yang sama, saya juga mencoba merawat kamu.

      Tapi untunglah kita selamat. 4 tulang iga saya patah dam tulang panggul saya yang sebelah kiri retak.

      Kalau saya tidak memeluk kamu waktu tabrakan terjadi, mungkin kamu meninggal. Kita juga selamat berkat sabuk pengaman dan kantung udara penyelamat di mobil.

      Saya bersyukur kita bisa selamat dari kejadian itu.

  2. Neil:

    I just would like to say thank you, and spending the time for you to do this for me.
    I have cut and pasted your text.. I hope that she gets this and understands and appreciate that in this world there’s about 60% nice genuine people out there that will do the right thing to save others in the time of need through any time of accident.
    I am recovering okay but I am worried about the girl that was sitting next to me …

    • asimonoff:

      @Neil You are more than welcome, I’m glad I could help. Hoping for your speedy recovery.
      Semoga cepat sembuh.

  3. Neil:

    Hi,

    Doctors are saying mid Jan and early I should be aright, well should be ok, .
    But my back maybe damaged, due to the high speed impact crash from the T-Bone crash which has damaged and leaving me in the middle (I was looking left at the front of the 4WD With the big black Roo bar….) on the full impact left hand side passenger door….

    I can only thank God,

    This high power … still needs me to complete
    my destiny……

    Thank you my friend and god bless…..


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