Courtship and Marriage

Marriages arranged by the close relatives of brides and grooms are preferred, which is why courtship leading to marriage is not in accord with Timpaus Banggai ideology. The idea of romantic love is familiar but is regarded as unfortunate. According to the islanders, that is one reason why young people usually trust their parents' choice of candidates for marriage.

Elopement is relatively common. Women who have married after having eloped tend to explain it by claiming that the man must have used love potions and magic to make them oppose their parents' will. Both men and women know how to apply love magic and some people admit that they have indeed used it. The recipe regarded as most powerful for this purpose is dugong tears in combination with secret spells.

Marriage is an important social transition and public ritual on Timpaus. The ceremonies consist of a mix of Islamic and local traditional elements. Preparations for marriage begin with harta negotiations that settle the brideprice. Objects usually included in brideprice are money in cash, white cloth, rice, sugar, wheat flour, fresh fish, margarine, condensed milk, coffee, tea, cigarettes, tobacco, paraffin oil, and one or two goats. The groom's party prepares a list of proposed items for the bride's party. Then discussions follow to reach an agreement.

The brideprice (except the money) is primarily used to entertain the guests at the wedding party. Some weeks after harta, the Islamic nikah is arranged. Words are read from the Qur'an and the groom repeats some of the phrases. After this short ritual bride and groom withdraw for a while, sometimes accompanied by one or two elders who narrate legends and myths dealing with existential problems of married life. A day or two after nikah a public village feast (basa doa kawin) with lots of food is served and public dances are arranged. During most of the feast the bride and groom sit motionless, in local costumes, at an elevated and brightly decorated stage.

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