This article originally appeared on VICE Indonesia.
In Indonesia, simplicity, attractiveness, and kind-heartedness are often valued in a spouse. Last week, a man who netizens are saying exemplifies these qualities tied the knot with his two girlfriends at the same time, with a dowry that many might consider paltry.
In Indonesia and many Asian countries, it’s common for the groom to give money or a gift to the bride and her family. In short, dowries are necessary and a pretty big deal. Many believe that the bigger the dowry, the more the groom can show how capable he is of caring for his wife (or wives).
However, this man apparently thought it was unnecessary to cough up a huge amount--and prove his capabilities in the traditional sense--even though he was to marry two women.
His wedding ceremony recently went viral on social media after it was posted on Facebook on Aug. 17, according to local media. In it, he is seen with two women who appear to get along with each other. The groom stumbles over his words and messes up the marriage rites he’s supposed to read, but he gets it right the second time.
He did not think there was anything strange about marrying his two girlfriends in a single ceremony. “My heart couldn’t stand to see them hurt. So I decided to marry them both,” local media quoted him as saying.
The unconventional wedding was held in the village of Airtarap, Kalimantan, and took place with a mere Rp10,000 (US$0.70) dowry shared by the two brides. Is this a display of simplicity and kind-heartedness or is he just biting off more than he could chew?
This isn’t the first time an Indonesian man held a ceremony for two brides. A man from Lombok, an island off Bali, married two women in 2017 with a dowry of 50 grams of gold for one bride and Rp500,000 (US$35.10) for the other. In 2018, a rubber tree farmer from South Sulawesi did the same thing with a dowry of 55 grams of gold and Rp1 million (US$70.15) in cash for each bride.
Surprisingly underwhelming dowries are also nothing new. In June 2018, Agus Riadi, 33, proposed to his now-wife with a dowry of three eggs and Rp16,000 (US$1.12). When local media met him at his house, Riadi said he was the butt of many jokes for staying single for so long and that he was waiting for a “simple” woman who would be happy with his dowry.
“It’s true I married my wife for the dowry of three eggs and Rp16,000. That was my intention, and I vowed that if I couldn’t find someone who would accept that amount, I would never marry,” Agus said.
But Hari, a religious figure who like many Indonesians goes by one name, takes the gold. He married his wife in 2016 with a dowry of a glass of water, which she immediately drank in front of him.