Hundreds of Indonesian couples celebrated getting married in Jakarta on New Year’s Eve in a free mass wedding. The communal event, attended by 437 couples, was staged by authorities to ease residents’ struggles with bureaucracy. Many Jakartans cannot access public services because they have never legally been married, according to governor Anies Baswedan, “If they want to celebrate their wedding anniversaries, they will not only celebrate it with their families but the whole world (who) will celebrate with them because it coincides with New Year’s,” the governor said.
Muhammad Nasir, 64, and his 65-year-old wife Aminah, who only goes by one name, have been married since 1968 — but only according to Islamic law due to financial reasons. They have five children and nine grandchildren, but as they have never been legally married some of their children do not have birth certificates and cannot gain access to public services such as healthcare. They immediately signed up to the mass wedding when they heard about it. “I am happy. I am happy, I am very happy,” Aminah told AFP. “I’m happy because it’s for free and now I have all the legal documents which I have never had before, thank God,” she added. As well as older couples who have been married according to Islamic law, young newlyweds received a gram of gold, Korans and a set of prayer outfits. Music festivals, cultural parades, foods stalls and bazaars were also held at around the capital to celebrate New Year’s Eve.-AFP