Living on more than 13,400 islands, the Indonesian nation today counts some 200 million population comprising more than 200 ethnic groups. After Independence in 1945 inter-marriages among people of different ethnic groups have welded the population into a more cohesive Indonesian nation.
The majority of the population embraces Islam, while in Bali the Hindu religion is predominant. Whereas in areas like the Minahasa in North Sulawesi, the Toraja highlands in South Sulawesi, in the East Nusatenggara islands and in large parts of Papua, in the Batak highlands as well as on Nias island in North Sumatra, the majority are either Catholics or Protestants. On the whole the Indonesian people are religious in nature.
And, true to the Pancasila, the five principles of nationhood, – namely Belief in the One and Only God, a Just and Civilized Humanity, the Unity of Indonesia, Democracy through unanimous deliberations, and Social Justice for all – Indonesian societies are open and remain tolerant towards one another’s religion, customs and traditions, all the while faithfully adhering to their own. The Indonesian coat of arms moreover bears the motto: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika – Unity in Diversity.
Although today’s youth especially in the large cities is modern and follow international trends, yet when it comes to weddings, couples still adhere to traditions on the side of both the bride’s and bridegroom’s parents. So in a mixed ethnic wedding, the vows and wedding traditions may follow the bride’s family’s, while during the reception elaborate decorations and costumes follow the groom’s ethnic traditions, or vice versa. Weddings and wedding receptions in Indonesia are a great introduction to Indonesia’s many and diverse customs and traditions. Weddings are often also occasions to display one’s social status, wealth and fashion sense. Even in villages, hundreds or even thousands of wedding invitees line up to congratulate the couple and their parents who are seated on stage, and then enjoy the wedding feast and entertainment.