INDONESIA : Social media is abuzz with a video of a “royal wedding” or marriage ceremony of two Alaskan Malamutes named Jojo and Luna, which took place at a mall in Pantai Indah Kapuk (PIK), Jakarta, on Saturday (15 Jul).
The extravagant wedding, with a price tag of 200 million Indonesian rupiahs (approximately 13,306 USD), featured a Nusantara-themed ceremony infused with Javanese traditions. Both “bride” and “groom” dogs were adorned in traditional Javanese attire for the occasion.
The unique event was orchestrated by Valentine Cahandra, also known as Valen, the owner of the male dog Jojo.
Valen shared that they chose the Javanese theme as both he and Indira Ratnasari (Nena), the owner of the female dog Luna, have Javanese heritage. “I’m from Yogyakarta, and Nena has Solo roots, so why not preserve our own culture,” Valen explained.
Initially, Valen and Nena had no plans for a lavish wedding for their beloved pets. It all began with Valen’s intention to celebrate Jojo’s birthday in a special way. However, after discussing it with Nena, they decided to turn it into a grand wedding celebration.
“Originally, I just wanted to celebrate Jojo’s birthday. But then, why not just have a wedding as well? So, we had a meeting, searched for vendors here and there, and finally, the wedding took place yesterday,” Valen told Kompas.com on Monday (17 Jul).
The preparations involved a team of 100 people, including various vendors and security personnel, to ensure the smooth running of the event.
“There were many vendors involved, such as catering, makeup artists for the dogs’ costumes, human attire, the venue, and live music – there was even a band. And then there were the pet catering, wedding cake, lighting, and decorations – it was a lot,” said Valen.
Everything was prepared with meticulous attention to detail. For instance, for pet consumption, Valen mentioned that he had ordered a catering service to create special replicas of human food for the animals.
It’s no wonder the initial budget of 100 million IDR skyrocketed to over 200 million IDR.
The wedding spectacle featured two beautifully decorated stages. The first stage was set up in front of a mini swimming pool for the ceremonial blessing, while the second stage served as the reception area and a place for taking photos with guests.
Before the Javanese traditional ceremony commenced, Jojo and Luna received a “blessing” conducted by Pastor Lorenzo Heli on the main stage. Following the blessing, both owners ascended to the stage, dressed in all-white international attire.
During the wedding procession, Jojo and Luna donned specially designed Javanese traditional outfits, accompanied by their owners, who wore green kebayas and beskap (traditional Javanese attire).
The event gained significant attention on social media, with many praising the intricacy of the preparations. However, it also sparked criticism from various quarters.
Local officials denounce application of Javanese-style wedding to animals
The Department of Culture (Disbud) of the Special Region of Yogyakarta (DIY) expressed its dismay and disapproval of the event. The Disbud DIY also addressed concerns about cultural misappropriation.
“We deeply regret and express our disapproval of the organization of ‘The Royal Wedding Jojo and Luna,’ which went viral on social media,” stated Dian Lakshmi Pratiwi, the Head of the Department of Culture of the Special Region of Yogyakarta (DIY), in an official post on the Department’s official Instagram account, @dinaskebudayaandiy, as quoted by detikJateng on Wednesday (19 Jul).
The department emphasizes that traditional wedding ceremonies in the Special Region of Yogyakarta are legally protected and designated as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Indonesia.
“In light of these regulations, it is the obligation of the Department of Culture (Kundha Kabudayan) of the Special Region of Yogyakarta to undertake actions for physical and cultural preservation when there is a deviation that results in the degradation and distortion of the values and essence of these life cycle ceremonies. ”
“Therefore, we strive to prevent such incidents from happening again,” the department asserted in a statement.
“In essence, it is the responsibility of humans to embody culture to understand and apply the entire cultural ecosystem in accordance with the natural order and purpose. ”
Dian Lakshmi Pratiwi also expressed her concerns about the video. Therefore, the concept of a Javanese-style wedding should not be applied to animals. This is because humans and animals have different natures.
“There are different natures and purposes between humans and animals, so it’s naturally different. Dogs don’t need to get married in a Javanese ceremony; it questions our sense of humanity,” she stated.
Dian added that the Department of Culture (Disbud) will not take legal action as it falls outside their jurisdiction.
However, Disbud cannot prevent others from doing so. “But I must apologize, I cannot prevent some members of the community who are genuinely concerned about preserving culture from pursuing legal action, and there may be sanctions applied by their association,” she said.
Netizens criticised the insensitivity and extravagance of dog wedding video
The video garnered criticism from social media users as well. Many questioned the insensitivity of the upper class in conducting such extravagant ceremonies while social and economic disparities persist. Some users wondered if the essence of culture, like the value of empathy and sensitivity towards others, was being lost.
“Is there still a sense of ‘tepo seliro‘ or sensitivity towards others?” commented the account @pupukorgani***. “Besides, this is absurd. Animals don’t understand ceremonies. They should just mate, it’s complicated. Just because they have a lot of money,” commented the account @bayoe_dhi**.
The dog owner issued a public apology
On 19 Jul, Indira Ratnasari, the owner of Luna, issued a public apology on her Instagram account (@brigitavirginiamakeup).
“We deeply regret and offer our sincerest apologies to the Javanese cultural enthusiasts and the entire Indonesian community who were displeased and hurt by this event,” she continued.
Indira stated that she had no intention whatsoever to disrespect or disregard Indonesian culture, especially Javanese culture. “We are very grateful for the reminder to better understand and appreciate the culture,” she said.
The controversial wedding also drew criticism from the Catholic community, as the ceremony involved a religious blessing conducted by a priest. In a press statement uploaded on the Instagram account @lambe_turah, Valen and Nena apologize to the Catholic community for the emergence of news regarding the wedding blessing of the dogs Jojo and Luna.
“We also sincerely apologize to the Jakarta Archdiocese and the entire Catholic community for the misunderstanding caused by the news of the pet blessing,” the statement reads, as quoted by suara.com on 20 Jul.
Instead of being a wedding blessing for Jojo and Luna, Valen and Nena clarify that it was simply a common pet blessing performed in Catholic churches.
“In reality, what happened was just a pet blessing, which is usually conducted by the church on October 4th to commemorate St. Francis,” the statement adds.
According to Liturgy Life, parishes commonly bless animals on the Memorial of Saint Francis of Assisi (October 4). The Church recognizes animals’ significant role in human existence and expresses gratitude for the ways they enrich our lives with joy and compassion.
However, receiving the blessing does not turn the animals into sacred beings; they remain the same.