Dili wedding. What Australian farm work boosts Timor’s marriage rates

The bulk of the price comes from “barlake,” which is the Tetum word that can be translated to “dowry” or “bride price,” even though the exchanges typically take place in two ways between the groom and bride families.

The presents can be in the shape of money or goats, pigs, buffalo, old coins, silver or gold discs, sculptures, statues of Catholic saints and coral necklaces, spice and wardrobes, beds, mattresses, and homes.

Each serves a different purpose and is exchanged at a recognized rate of exchange.

The total expenditure on a traditional wedding, including the barlake, can reach $US5,000 to $US20,000, depending on the socioeconomic background of the couple’s families.

Timor’s minimum salary is USD 115 per month.

The majority of people are not employed in a formal capacity.

For the majority of Timorese people, traditional weddings are not possible. It is a way to consolidate an important aspect of significant social relationships, and it is also the main platform for managing social debts.

A husband who was married to the bride of Los Palos in Southeast Timor explained the responsibilities to me as follows:

My father-in-law provided me with the “price list” that I had to pay prior to getting married, for example, my wife’s expenses for her education at the university, which was ten buffaloes.

We lived with each other for a few months prior to getting married. That included six buffaloes. My staying in their house consists of 2 buffaloes and other times, I’m not sure of.

Many Timorese postpone getting married even though they have children.

Seasonal work elevates status.

Abino, as well as Floriano at Kununurra, for the 2017 Seasonal Worker Program.

The Australian seasonal worker program has been home to more than 2000 East Timor employees (and many more from other Pacific nations) since its inception in 2014.

While in Australia for just six months, the majority of people send back to Timor between US$4,000-$8,000.

A study of workers on seasonal leave who returned to Timor found that half of them were able to rate “customary obligations” as one of the most important five reasons for the money they produced as well as the creation of a company, purchasing vehicles, property, and making home improvements.

A worker who had just completed a season had told me:

I want to be married, but I am afraid the cost is prohibitive. I could have been working with my father-in-law in the field of rice for years in the event that I had not been given the opportunity to join the Seasonal Worker Program. We have a three-year-old baby already, but the wedding hasn’t yet occurred.

The ability to finance a wedding using the help of Australia shows financial capability and prestige.

The influx of money boosts the likelihood of marriage for those who return, and it also permits them to marry people who normally would not be attainable. Timorese parents are requesting weddings with a high status.

Australian remittances enable participants to get the emotional bonds, security, and business connections inherent in marriage they might otherwise miss out on.

They also allow the women to “marry up,” or at least, if they want to, break free from the shackles of a class-based society.

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