Indonesian President Joko Widodo ready to see daughter wed

President Joko Widodo and his family announced the wedding date of his daughter Kahiyang Ayu (third from left) on Sept 17, 2017.
President Joko Widodo and his family announced the wedding date of his daughter Kahiyang Ayu (third from left) on Sept 17, 2017.PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST / ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MEDAN (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK)- "I am about to be a member of a big Batak family," Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said with a smile after inaugurating two toll roads in Medan, North Sumatra, last Friday (Oct 13).

The president was beaming with pride as he spoke of the upcoming nuptials of his only daughter, Ms Kahiyang Ayu, to Mr Bobby Afif Nasution, who is an ethnic Batak from Medan.

For Mr Joko, the marriage meant he would be able to visit North Sumatra more frequently, not only in his capacity as state leader but also as the father-in-law of a Batak man, he said, triggering laughter in the attending crowd.

After the inauguration, Mr Joko and First Lady Iriana headed to the home of Mr Bobby's family in Medan on their first visit to their daughter's future in-laws.

Mr Joko, however, remained tight-lipped about the meeting, which lasted about one hour.

The wedding ceremony is scheduled to take place in Mr Joko's hometown of Surakarta in Central Java on Nov 8.

It is believed that Mr Bobby's families will hold another cultural procession in Medan after, to give Ms Kahiyang a clan name, an important tradition held when a Batak marries outside the ethnic group. In this case, Ms Kahiyang, who is Javanese, will need to take part in the ceremony.

Mr Bakti Lubis, a prominent figure of the Mandailing cultural group that covers, among others, the Nasution family, predicted that Ms Kahiyang would be given the surname Siregar "because her soon to-be mother-in-law, Mr Bobby's mother, is a Siregar."

"This is the tradition. If a (non-Batak) woman marries a Mandailing man, the bride will receive the clan name of her mother-in-law," Mr Bakti said.

For the Javanese people, meanwhile, Nov 8 is considered "an auspicious date."

Javanese expert Totok Yasmin said the marriage will fall on "Wednesday Pahing," a day that is believed to be virtuous.

The engagement of Ms Kahiyang, who has drawn praise from the public for her modesty, and Mr Bobby was announced in June when the two appeared in pre-wedding photos on Instagram.

The two had been seeing each other for about a year. Both 26 years old, they met in 2015 while studying for a Master's degree at the Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) in Bogor, West Java.

Mr Bobby is the son of the late Erwin Nasution, former director of state-run plantation firm PT Perkebunan Nusantara (PTPN) IV. Erwin died in January this year in Medan and Ms Kahiyang was seen attending his funeral.

In Surakarta, preparations for the wedding have already taken place. Mr Abdullah Usman, the general manager of Adi Soemarno International Airport in Surakarta, said at least 30 chartered jets carrying Mr Joko's guests were expected to land at the airport. Commercial airlines are also likely to add flights for Nov 8.

"In 2015, 26 chartered jets and four narrow-body aircraft landed here," Mr Abdullah said, referring to the wedding reception of Mr Joko's oldest son, Mr Gibran Rakabuming Raka, who married Ms Selvie Ananda, also from Surakarta.

Most rooms in the city's four and five-star hotels - such as the Sunan Hotel Solo, which is located around 2km from the wedding venue, and Alila Hotel Solo - have also been booked for several days before and after the wedding.

"Demand has increased since the wedding was announced," said Sunan hotel general manager Retno Wulandari, adding that guests who had booked rooms at the hotel included Mr Joko's Cabinet ministers and presidential staff.