Selamat Riayadi, a 16-year-old boy from South Sumatra, Indonesia, recently married his sweetheart, 71-year-old Rohaya. The two are apparently so in love with each other that they threatened to take their own lives if their families didn’t give their blessing for the controversial union.
It’s not exactly clear how and when Selamat and Rohaya fell in love, but what we do know is that the two have become husband and wife on Saturday, during a wedding ceremony held at the house of their village chief, in Karangendah Village, South Sumatra. The wedding was held at night, to keep the number of visitors to an acceptable number, because their controversial love story had already attracted curious visitors from neighboring villages. Even so, hundreds of people attended the special wedding.
As you can imagine, the 55-year age gap between the newlyweds wasn’t easily overcome, especially since neither of their families saw their marriage as appropriate. And while Selamat somehow managed to convince his parents to give him their blessing and even attend the ceremony, Rohaya had a more difficult time getting her family to approve. She was a widow who had already been married twice and had a 19-year-old son, so her 75-year-old brother – her closest living relative – feared that the marriage would shame their family.
Selamat did things by the book, and first asked Rohaya’s son if he could ask her hand in marriage. The young man was shocked, but told him that he may agree to it, but asked him to check with their local leader as well, a man named Kuswoyo. He was more than a little surprised by the request as well, but agreed to marry them, if they received the blessings of their families, as tradition required.
Unfortunately, Rohaya’s brother, Raup, would not hear of it, so the two lovebirds went to their local leader together, and threatened to take their own lives if a solution to get them married was not found. One way or another, they would be together, they said.
The man had no choice but to speak with Raup, and after explaining the situation to him, and how serious his sister and her beloved were about the marriage, he reluctantly agreed. On Saturday, the two were wed by Kuswoyo, at his house in Karangendah, and Raup was there as a guardian of their marriage.
Photos and videos of the unusual wedding have been doing the rounds on Indonesian social media and online news sites for the past four days, but some people still can’t believe the event actually took place. I can’t say I blame them, it’s definitely not the sort of thing you see every day, but Kuwoyo himself confirmed that the wedding is very real, in a phone interview with Indonesia newspaper Detik.
Another thing that’s very hard to believe is that the two are actually in love, and that there was no financial motivation for their union. But, Kuwoyo again claims that the two are both financially disadvantaged, so there were no “economic factors” involved. Apparently, Selamat gave Rohaya’s family a dowry of a mere Rp 200,000 ($15).
Selamat has moved into Rohaya’s house, and they are both over the moon after getting married.
While their wedding is definitely controversial, according to several Indonesian news sources I’ve seen, the public’s reaction to it has been generally positive. Kuwoyo said that hundreds of people have been visiting the newlyweds to congratulate them on their union and give them their best wishes.
The official minimum age of marriage in Indonesia is 16 for girls and 19 for boys, but there is also a thing called nikah siri, which, according to Coconuts Jakarta, is “a type of marriage that follows religious norms but is not recognized by the state.” The practice is apparently not considered a violation of the law and is practiced throughout the Indonesian archipelago.