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Malay Wedding

Wedding taking place Vows exchanged






 

 

 

The Malay Wedding

 

The activities that take place during a Malay wedding come from the diverse cultural traditions --indigenous, Hindu and Islamic--that have together served to shape traditional Malay culture. The numerous activities constitute a Malay wedding may be conveniently be divided  into three groups representing three stages.

The first group of activities, all of which precede  the actual wedding ceremony,  consist of   (a) the investigation   (merisik), (b) the engagement or approach to formalise the arrangement (meminang), and  (c) the hantaran or the sending of gifts  and part of the amount of money  (wang belanja) for expenses (wang belanja)  which the boy’s family give to the girl’s side  that will be incurred  by the girl’s family. bersandingThe wang belanja  is usually an amount of several thousand ringgit. It is different from the dowry (mas kahwin) which is also paid by the man to his future wife. The amount of the mas kahwin is usually fixed by the Islamic Religious Council  in each state, but a potential bridegroom may give any amount above the official figure.

The second group of activities consists of  the actual marriage ceremony (akad nikah)  and  berinai,  while the third group of  activities consists of  berarak or arriving  in procession, sitting on a decorated dias ( bersanding  and the welcoming of the married couple to the  bride’s house

(sambut menantu).

 

Despite overall similarities in the respective ceremonies as done in various parts of the country, there are certain  regional differences. Here only the general characteristics of the ceremonies have been highlighted.

 

 

 

 

 

Merisik

When it is time for a  young man to get married his  family will look around to identify a number of  potential candidates. Having decided upon one particular young lady, then, the merisik of investigation process  takes place.  For this ceremony one or more representatives (wakil) of  the young man’s family  will  pay a friendly visit to the family of the young woman whom they have in mind as his potential bride. The visit is purely for the purpose of  further investigation. Its allows the visitors to see the young lady.  A hint will be given to her parents  regarding the purpose of the visit, and their reaction will be assessed. The girl’s parents may also give the visitors some idea as to whether or not their daughter will be interested in the match. The merisik  does not constitute a formal proposal. Following the visit both sides can begin to think more seriously about the possibility or otherwise of the union. It is possible that no progress may take place, and the young man’s parents or representatives will then look for another possible candidate.

 

Meminang

Once agreement  for the marriage  has been reached between the families of the potential bride and the potential bridegroom, preparations for  engagement (meminang)  take place. Representatives from the young man’s side once again visit the house of the young woman, following  the confirmation of a date and time for such a visit. On the side of the potential bride, a consensus is obtained regarding the following:

(a)   The date and time for the  meminang  ceremony.

 

(b)   The amount of money to be paid by the young man for expenses ( wang belanja).

 

(c)   Details regarding the  gift (hantaran) items.

 

(d)   The date and time for the actual wedding ceremony and feast.

 

Details regarding the penalty should one of the parties break the agreement for the marriage.

When the young man’s representatives arrive at the young woman’s house, these matters are discussed and settled. Agreement is also reached on certain details regarding the engagement ceremony, including:

 

(a)   The number of persons who will constitute the bride-groom’s party.

 

(b)   The number of trays (dulang) of gifts  that will be brought in addition to the traditional  betel-leaf containers (tepak sirih). 

 

Whether or not a part of the money for expenses (belanja) is  to be paid by the potential bridegroom at the time of the engagement (meminang) ceremony.

Following this settlement, the potential bridegroom’s  side  will prepare the various items to be presented to the potential bride. Similarly on the side of the young lady,  gift items to the presented to the young man are prepared. Customarily, the potential bride groom will send the following items to the potential bride on the day of their engagement:

 

(a)   A gold or diamond ring.

 

(b)   A betel-leaf container (tepak sirih) complete with betel leaves (sirih) and other ingredients. This is known as sirih meminang.

 

(c)   A complete set of clothes.

 

(d)   A scarf or shawl (kain tudung).

 

(e)   Fruits or other gifts.

 

(f)     A handbag.

 

(g) A pair of shoes.

The total number of gift-trays and the number of items returned as gifts by the potential bride must be in odd numbers, usually 7 or more.

 

On the day of the engagement  the young man’s party brings the items agreed upon.   For the  meminang ceremony  the young man  and the young woman will be represented not by their parents but by other carefully selected persons.

 

On this day  the date for the wedding  ceremony (akad nikah) and the various other conditions and requirements will be also confirmed by both parties. Once all such matters have been resolved, the bridegroom’s representatives will hand over all the gifts (hantaran) items  with the exception of the engagement ring. The ring  will be placed on the finger of the potential bride by an elder sister or aunt of the potential bridegroom. The potential bride will all this while be in her chamber.

 

The gifts from the family of the potential bride meant for the potential bridegroom are now handed  to his representatives. The gift items may include a velvet cap (songkok), a prayer mat (sejadah) a pair of clothes and so on.  The gifts must also be placed in an add number of trays,  the number of trays being higher than those received from the potential bridegroom’s party. This completes the meminang ceremony.

 

Following the exchange of gifts a feast is given to the bridegroom’s party, before they leave for home.

 

Akad Nikah

The Akad Nikah is the actual  religious  solemnisation of  Bernikah the marriage.  While all the other ceremonies performed in a Malay wedding before the Akad Nikah and after it may be considered as derived from the traditional culture of the Malays, and may even be omitted  the Akad Nikah is an Islamic ceremony without which   no marriage is valid. Consent  of both the bride and the bridegroom must be obtained, and the religious official (usually a kadhi) conducting the marriage must make sure the marriage is entered into willingly by both the parties. At times the marriage solemnization is in fact done by the girl’s father in the presence of religious officials. In a brief sermon given by the officials, the  bridegroom  and the bride will receive a briefing  on their  rights and responsibilities as a married couple, particularly from the Islamic  perspective. There must  be two official witnesses at the Akad Nikah. A marriage certificate will be issued by the kadhi or  State Religious Council representatives following the ceremony, and this is to be signed by the bridegroom, the bride as well as the witnesses.

 

 

Adat Berinai

The ceremony of Berinai involves the staining of the couple’s hands with henna. Lesser or greater  berinai ceremonies are held  three times as follows:

a.      Berinai Curi  takes place  three nights before the actual wedding ceremony (akad nikah) with the participation of  close relatives and friends only.

 

b.      Berinai Kecil. Takes place two nights before the  wedding ceremony with the participation of  family members, neighbours and close friends.

 

c.  Berinai Besar is  usually held after the completion of the religious ceremony (Akad Nikah).

 

Of the above three ceremonies, the berinai besar is the major one. The lesser ones may take place in private, usually with the participation of women only. For the berinai besar  the newly married couple  sit on the specially decorated dias (pelamin). Family members from both sides take turns to  apply henna to the hands of the seated couple. Rice and a mixture of flour  may also be applied to the palms and foreheads of the couple, as a sign of blessing.

 

The Adat Berinai is intended to cleanse both the young persons now married to each other. Henna is regarded as a blessed item, that is, it is used as a means of cleansing  and protection from evil or malicious influences.

 

The Bersanding or Hari Langsung

The  hari langsung, literally “the day of completion” , which also involves the bersanding or ceremonial seating on the dias, is considered  the high point of a  Malay wedding.

In the morning before the bersanding ceremony the bride will change into new clothes, and various fashions may be tried out in selecting the dress to be worn for the bersanding. Popular bersanding fashions include those of from the Minangkabau tradition, Kelantanese styles as well as styles derived from the West.

 

BersandingThe bridegroom is not allowed to enter the bride’s house before the bride sends him a prepared betel leaf known as sirih latlat or sirih genggam.  This is a sign that the bride now awaits the arrival of the bridegroom. The bridegroom  walks slowly towards the house of the bride, his party is led by  womenfolk. This is the ceremony of berarak, or walking in procession.  Behind them come the group of musicians beating various types of drums, especially the hand-held kompang, as well as bearers of decorative flowers (bunga manggar).

 

The arriving party take their seats  in a special area of the house for the martial arts ( pencak silat) performance  which is held as a sign of welcome and paying respects to the bridegroom as the king for the day. Then both the bride and the bridegroom are invited   for the bersanding ceremony. This is the sitting in state ceremony and theoretically the first time that a bride and her groom meet. Seated on their chairs on the platform (pelamin) the couple are blessed with scented water, henna, sandalwood paste and rice flour paste. The bersanding publicly ratifies the union.

 

Following the bersanding the newly-married couple  will come down to the halaman rumah for lunch or dinner (kenduri), to which guests will be invited.  Further  activities including light entertainment  or joget dance sessions may take place in the evening to conclude  the Malay wedding

 

Sambut menyambut

The adat of sambut menyambut or ceremony of welcome is usually done at the bridegrooms’s house to welcome the bride. This may take place a day or two following the bersanding. Sometimes a second bersanding ceremony is held in the bridegroom’s house  to give the opportunity to the women of that household who did not have the opportunity to be present at the first bersanding ceremony to bless the newly married couple.