Roti Buaya, The Wedding Icon from Jakarta

Roti Buaya, a Meaningful Bread

Marriage is a sacred event and Roti Buaya (Crocodile Bread) holds important parts in traditional wedding ceremony especially for Betawi people who known as the local people of Jakarta. This unique bread surely interesting as wedding gift since the shape is extraordinary and there are also special meanings which carried by Roti Buaya for the bride and bridegroom.

Crocodile bread with a happy marriage couple

Roti Buaya (Crocodile bread) with a happy marriage couple

So, why this bread is very important as a gift for wedding ceremony? Well, the old people of Jakarta believes that Roti Buaya is a symbol of faithfulness and toughness which very important for marriage couple to build their family in the future. Crocodile is an animal that only mating once in a lifetime and crocodile also has high determination to survive during all seasons.

Furthermore, Roti Buaya also has meaning as a symbol of good spiritualism of marriage couple since the old people of Jakarta believes that there is a mythical “White Crocodile” which lives across the Ciliwung River in Jakarta. Since centuries ago the White Crocodile always protects the harmony in nature so the water of Ciliwung River can be used by all people who lives either in Jakarta or other supporting cities of Jakarta such as Bekasi, Bogor and Depok.

A View of Ciliwung River during dry season

A View of Ciliwung River during dry season

Today the Ciliwung River plays an important role for Jakarta and flood disaster which usually came to this city around December-April (Rainy season) always associated with this river. Practically, to give forecast of Flood possibility in Jakarta, the disaster expert refers to the water level of Ciliwung River so all people who lives in this city can obtain an accurate information related to the Flood disaster that might come. This River is the main water access for Jakarta and it has more than 5 sub-rivers that distributes water from the source which can be found near Puncak, West Java. Most people of Jakarta hope that someday the Ciliwung River can be completely restored (from heavy pollution) so there will be more fun activities that can be done near the River.

Roti Buaya as a Special Gift

Besides as an icon of a wedding, Roti Buaya also popular as a special gift and some of Bread Factories in Indonesia realize this business opportunity. They create their own style of Roti Buaya and sold it directly to the customer either for special occasion or home-party event. As we can see, if you came to Jakarta and visit some bread stores at mall there are customized Roti Buaya. The custom bread usually smaller than the original one or vise versa (it is very big in size and i think you need to ask more than 10 persons to break down the crocodile bread into pieces).

For good reason, leave the crocodile alone while you are cooking

For good reason, leave the crocodile alone while you are cooking

Most of Roti Buaya (traditional) parcel wrapped with plastic and tied up with ribbon as an accessories while the modern parcel of Roti Buaya is using a box with colorful theme. The good news is Roti Buaya now available in various flavours and children likes it so much. At the modern bread store you can find Roti Buaya with chocolate flavour, vanilla, strawberry and even coffee flavour (the original one is only available in sweet flavour).

Various size of Roti Buaya

Various size of Roti Buaya

With more taste feature and unique shape, the existance of this bread is arise and most of baker said that the high demand usually came after Ramadhan, exactly at the month of Syawal which is also known as the celebration month of the Moslems. This high demand trend is related to the huge numbers of Moslem that live in Indonesia and most baker can produce up to 100 pieces of Roti Buaya (standard size) in a day at Syawal month.

Small-size Roti Buaya is ready to take away

Small-size Roti Buaya is ready to take away

The price of Roti Buaya parcel could be vary due to the size of the bread itself. The packaging type of the bread also give effect to the selling price. Commonly, we can buy a small size of Roti Buaya (20-30cm) for IDR 7500 while for the medium size (50-60cm) it is around IDR 20000. For the large size (120-150cm) the price could reached IDR 50000 – 75000. Those are the prices for the bread only and we need to spend about IDR 30000 – 50000 for the packaging service but if you like to wrap it at home then no need to pay for the packaging service.

Roti Buaya and Pop Culture Irony

Although there are noble meanings which related to Roti Buaya and Buaya (Crocodile) as an animal but Pop Culture which grows among modern society (especially the youth people) in Jakarta has placed Buaya into something bad such as “Buaya Darat” (This phrase refers to a man that can’t be trusted in a relationship especially marriage) and this is an irony if we look back into what the old people of Jakarta said about “Buaya” (Crocodile). Another irony about Buaya is a phrase “Air Mata Buaya” (Tears of Crocodile) and this phrase has meaning that someone who cried only to cheat someone else (fake emotion). Those ironic phrases simply can be heard every day (in Indonesia) through song lyric, comic, sticker, poster  and also the TV shows.

Left : Keep Distance, Buaya Darat is ahead Right : Comic of Buaya Darat

LEFT : Keep Distance, Buaya Darat is ahead, RIGHT : Comic of Buaya Darat

Well, the time has changed dramatically and Jakarta grows into an International City with multi-races interaction every day. I hope the wisdom value of the old people in Jakarta about “Buaya” could live among the youth today and Roti Buaya could be as popular as Donut someday.

By Amar Pujo Wicaksono

(Contributor at


2 thoughts on “Roti Buaya, The Wedding Icon from Jakarta

  1. A motivating discussion is definitely worth comment.
    I believe that you ought to publish more on this issue, it might not be
    a taboo subject but usually people do not speak about these issues.
    To the next! Kind regards!!

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