Cultural Diversity: Wedding Traditions in West Papua

Get to Know About Wedding Traditions in West Papua

Weddings in West Papua are not only about two individuals uniting, but also the celebration of traditions passed down from generation to generation. Hence wedding traditions in West Papua are highly respected and maintained with great pride.

West Papua, a province located on the eastern tip of Indonesia, is home to various ethnic groups that are rich in culture and tradition. One important aspect of West Papuan culture is the wedding tradition, which varies by tribe. In this article, you will explore some of the unique and interesting wedding traditions in West Papua.

West Papua Wedding Traditions

As you probably already know, each tribe has its own unique culture and customs, and so do the tribes in West Papua. Here are some unique wedding traditions from several tribes in West Papua:

Biak Tribal Marriage Customs: Ararem

Biak Tribal Marriage Customs Ararem When Wedding Traditions in West Papua

The Biak tribe has a practice called Ararem, which is always performed by the community as part of the wedding tradition. Ararem is the tradition of delivering a dowry from the male’s family to the female’s family. [1]

Unlike the ceremony of delivering the dowry in general, in the Ararem tradition, the male’s family will uniquely deliver the dowry. Carrying various types of traditional plates, jars, household utensils, and some money, the groom’s family will walk to the bride’s house accompanied by the traditional dance: Wor dance. 

Interestingly, if the groom comes from a different village from the bride, the procession will involve all relatives in the village. All relatives from the groom’s side who live in the same village as the groom must be involved in the cavalcade. 

However, if both come from the same village, it is sufficient for the procession to involve only the male’s primary family.

The Tradition of Burning the Lamp of the Doreri Tribe: Farbakbuk

Wedding Traditions in West Papua

Talking about the wedding traditions of West Papua, another example is the tradition of burning lamps or Farbakbuk. This wedding tradition is from the Doreri tribe.

In detail, the Doreri people’s wedding ceremonies traditionally occur at night. As a sign of the start of the wedding ceremony, the Doreri tribe then will burn a lamp.

The lamps that the Doreri tribe would later burn are traditional lamps made of bamboo and fueled with oil. Generally, these traditional lights will be placed on the left and right of the entrance gate to the bride’s house.

The young bride’s family members will stand next to each of these lamps individually. Specifically, if women later guard the left side, then the male relatives will guard the right side, and vice versa. In essence, each person takes care of one lamp.

In the event procession, the groom must pay everyone who stands with the lamp while heading to the bride’s house. Payment can be in the form of plates or other objects. [3]

The Smoking Tradition of the Moi Tribe

Smoking Tradition When Wedding Traditions in West Papua

A unique tradition comes from the Moi tribe. The indigenous Moi people who live in the Sorong district have customs in marriage called the smoking tradition.

In the Moi tribal marriage procedure, there is an event called smoking cigarettes or Buk Sabak. Basically, in this ceremony, the bride, the groom, and also their family will take turns smoking cigarettes. 

In detail, one of the bride’s parents will smoke dry tobacco cigarettes four times in this event. After finishing, the bride will accept the cigarette and inhale it four times.

Next, the groom will accept it and smoke the cigarettes four times. The ceremony will be finished after the groom’s elder sister receives the cigarette. [4]

This smoking practice has a significant significance within the culture of the Moi tribe that practices it. This smoking tradition is a form of agreement between the bride and groom to work hand in hand to build their family.


Those are some West Papua traditions in unique and interesting weddings. Until now, all those customs have been passed down from generation to generation as a heritage from their forefathers. 

In spite of the widespread adoption of modern marital practices, this age-old wedding tradition in West Papua is still cherished by each tribe.