Flora & Fauna
Volume 88 | May 2012
insidesumatera.com | tourism & lifestyle magazine - Manjau Muli, a Guide to Dating Girls in Lampung Sungkai
Manjau Muli, a Guide
Senin, 8 November 2010 | 10:27:06
Manjau Muli, a Guide to Dating Girls in Lampung Sungkai
by. Christian Heru Cahyo Saputro
Different field, different caterpillers. Different pond, different fish. In different areas of Indonesia, you will find different traditional dating rules--or more to the point the adat rules for visiting the girl (beranjangsana or in modern Indonesian, ngapelin). In the Lampung Sungkai community, this is known as manjau muli--guidelines which guide young men and women in dating according to adat.
The word manjau muli originates from the Bunga Mayang Sungkai clan in North Lampung means to visit a girl. As a part of adat, there are a number of rules and habits to be followed.
Manjau muli is usually performed after sunset. The young man walks up to the back of the girl's house. The youth will give a sign, by flashing a torch, lighting a match or clicking his fingers. No need to fear, Sungkai girls are familiar with these signs. During manjau muli, the girl will go to the kitchen door without opening it (at night), and ask who is there. After it is clear who it is, the girl will invite the youth to enter the living room by the front door.
This is the first phase of young men and women getting to know one another, getting adapted to one another, finding out the other's character in limiting conditions. Their interaction is not as free as
modern youths. They must use proper and polite language. If the father or older brother happens to pass the room, the boy must bow his head and stop speaking to the girl until they have passed.
Despite the tight rules and good manners, Sungkai girls are very open and welcome any young man who is on manjau, even though in the end she will be forced to choose one. Welcoming the young bachelors is a part of good manners and obedience--it is a part of their culture. If a girl refuses a bachelor who is on manjau, she will be seen as arrogant, and will bring with it social sanctions, such as being avoided by the friends of the bachelor she refused.
On the other hand, the bachelor must be prepared to compete with others to win the heart of his chosen one. It often occurs that on Saturday night, when many bachelors are out on manjau, but it doesn't confuse Sungkai girls. They are usually adept at handling this kind of situation, by not favouring one particular young man, even if she has already given her heart away to him. So there are no ill feelings.
Each young man has a chance to show his character, good manners, intelligence, kindness, caring, humour, promises and so on. It seems that Sungkai girls must have strong characters if she is to differentiate amongst the many visiting youths. Even when a bachelor comes at the same time as the competition, bachelors performing manjau must always be galliant and polite when speaking.
At times, the girl's grandmother might come to join them and chat to the youth, to find out more about the bachelors attempting to win her granddaughter's heart, and give her granddaughter her opinion. Who is the most suitable for her beloved granddaughter? The reason is simple, Sungkai girls are closer and tend to confide in their grandmothers rather than their mothers. This is one of the reasons why the grandparents live with their children's family.
The manjau will continue until it reaches the next stage: bekadu.
Bekadu is a part of the manjau muli process, after a young man and woman have got to know one another and are becoming closer. Bekadu is a sort of "announcement" which takes place at the tiyuh party where they officially state that they are a couple. Usually the bekadu will be celebrated with a meal together, or at least drinking coffee together. The bachelor will have an opportunity to get further acquainted with the girl's family and tradition. So, the bekadu can be seen as a process where the bachelor adapts to the girl's family adat.
This is the word used when the relationship has become even closer and is going well. Betuntuk can be see as consolidating the relations between the young man and his chosen one's extended family.
Betuntuk involves the young man showing his serious intent by performing services for the girl's family, such as helping to open up farm land, planting rice and other tasks. Basically, he helps the family to carry out their daily tasks. In anthropology, this process is an example of initiation and also a part of the bride price.
Nuwik is the last stage of manjau muli. In this stage, both the bachelor and the girl commit to marriage. Nuwik can be performed without the man's parents. The nuwik is mainly concerned with discussing the conditions for marrying the girl.
Marriage is understood as improving the couple's social status. That is the beauty of the rules of ettiquette passed down to provide moral guidelines for young people today. Globalisation might one day push these rules aside, thus destroying them .
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