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Marriage and ritual among the Ata Baolangu of Lembata, Eastern Indonesia: Meanings, practices and contexts

ABSTRACT

This paper explores the meanings, practices and contexts of marriage and ritual among the Ata Baolangu of Lembata, Eastern Indonesia. Using the methodology of qualitative field research conducted by interviewing local stakeholders and by both participation in, and observation of, local community life, the paper proposes that all of the marriage rituals are necessary to ensure a legitimate relationship between the two parties involved and that procreation is necessary to maintain and transform social relations between and within clans, and to create harmony between the two worlds – of the living and the dead. This proposition is explained throughout the paper by first examining the concepts of marriage and ritual, followed by analysis of the stages of the rites and their meanings. By including some further reflection beyond ethnological boundaries, the paper hopes to contribute to a broader understanding of, and discourse on, the theme of traditions and philosophies in Asia. An endeavour to preserve traditions of marriage and ritual are philosophically necessary for the future prosperity of family and society, social structure and relations, as well as to give a sense of meaning, belonging and identity.

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