Wednesday, November 7, 2012

An Indonesian pre-natal ceremony

Last night, after five events including the grand finals of the Sing@Ning at the Salon de Ning, I was having a late-night snack at the lobby of the Peninsula Manila with two old friends and one new friend until close to midnight.

And between blogging and a couple of other things, I didn’t get to sleep till way past 2 AM today.

One of the Indonesian ladies puts the finishing touches
on the flowers and food for the ceremony

But just a few minutes past 9 AM, there I was at the residence of H.E. Kristiarto Legowo, Ambassador of Indonesia, in Forbes Park, to attend a unique cultural event that his very charming and lovely wife had planned.

The Indonesian ladies prepare for the ceremony

Madame Caecilia Legowo, together with the ladies of the Indonesian community, had organized this very interesting event to introduce more of Indonesian culture to the local and expatriate friends of the Indonesian community in Manila.


This lovely platter of food was for the mother-to-be

As part of today’s ceremonies, the ambassador’s sprawling residence was decorated so beautifully with flowers and batik fabrics, with a stage awash in flowers at one end.

Before the stage were several round tables for the guests, and I took my place in a table of lady ambassadors and wives of ambassadors.

After being away so much over the past months, I was certainly happy to see many friends again and catch up on life in Manila, before the ceremony began.


There was much talk as well about the tour of Sri Lanka that Travelife Magazine is organizing next year, from February 5 to 10, 2012. Lots of people are interested in going.

If you are interested in this opportunity of a lifetime, too, then please contact Meg or Kat at Travelife Magazine (tel 8138400/ 8922620 or


This food was part of the ceremony today

Then the ceremonies began. This pre-natal ceremony is essentially a Javanese celebration of the impending birth of a baby by a family and its relatives and close friends.

The wife of Indonesia's Deputy Chief of Mission
sang and played the guitar 

Fortunately, among the Indonesian community, there was a lady who is actually going to be giving birth soon. So she, her husband and her family participated in this ceremony with all of us as onlookers.

Giving birth is part of life everywhere in the world. But we all watched with fascination as the intricate rituals of this beautiful ceremony were performed for us.

The wife of the Pakistani ambassador
participated in the ceremony

The mother-to-be was greeted with love and care by members of her family, and she was continuously draped in special cloths.

The Indonesian ladies perform a song

As a last part of the ritual, seven lovely blouses, jackets and articles of clothing were draped or dressed on her in succession.


We all oohed and aahed over each one, as every piece of clothing was either colorful with handpainting or exquisite with beadwork.

Each time she was dressed, the husband had to ask the audience out loud: “Does she look beautiful now?” And we were all supposed to respond with a loud “No,” even if we of course thought otherwise. It was all part of the ritual.


This was the key to having her get dressed in another set of clothing. When she had finally put on the seventh set of clothing, her husband asked the same question once more.

This time, we all gave a resounding “Yes!”

 This marked the end to a wonderful and enjoyable cultural experience, not to mention a visual feast for the senses.


And then came a literal feast for other senses. It was time for lunch and Madame Legowo and her Indonesian ladies had prepared an amazing buffet of Indonesian specialties, which we all heartily enjoyed.

Indonesian celebration food

If only all days could begin as pleasantly as this.


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