Saturday, March 10, 2012

First Full Malay/Muslim Wedding

So, the second weekend of my Chinese New Year break I traveled to Seremban for the sister of a co-workers wedding, Kenduri and Bersanding (Reception). I have been to the Bersanding and Kenduri before but never the ceremony. I thought the akad nikah (contract signing) was only for the immediate family. I did not realize that many friends and relatives can attend. They used to do that part of the wedding in the Mosques, but now most people do it at the bride's parents' house. Normally the ceremony & Kenduri with Bersanding are spread out. They have the ceremony one weekend, then the Kenduri & Bersanding at the Bride's parents' house another weekend and the Groom's parents' house another weekend. She had all three the same weekend.

I arrived late Friday afternoon. The bride was in the bridal room. She was the youngest in the family so she and her husband will live at her parents' house as is the custom for the youngest in the family. The bridal room is decorated special for them. The husband of my co-worker is also another co-worker. He is also an artist, so he decorated the room. It was really well done. Most of the ladies, I guess, have very frilly and feminine rooms, but her's was not. It was artistic. Anyway she was in the room with several friends and relatives. She was having henna applied to her hands and feet. The tips of her fingers, a circle on the palms, the tips of her toes and a line around the outside and inside of her feet where all done in henna. She wanted it really dark so it would last for 6 months.

Me, trying the traditional type of Henna.
The kind she used was the traditional, which to me looked kind of like mud. It is a mix of different things. All of the ladies wanted me to try it, so they did just my left hand since I am right handed. So, they did the tips of my fingers and a circle on my palm. I had to sit there for a few hours while it dyed my hand. While I was sitting there all sort of friends and relatives stopped in the room to wish her the best, say congratulations, and just catch up. Not many of them spoke English, but occasionally someone would do some translating or throw in a word in English. I was able to pick up on some of what they were talking about even with no translation. As always older ladies always inquire if I am married and offer to set me up with some guy that is going to be coming. One of the women knew very little English, but she did offer that I could follow her husband home as she cackled. It sounds like she is a cool, but crazy lady. After a few hours I went to the bathroom and rinsed of the henna mud. When I came back they were all disappointed because with my pale skin the henna was so light and yellowish. It looked more like I had just gotten my hand dirty. So, they reapplied henna but they used the new kind which comes in a tube. I only had to have that on my hand for an hour. It was a dark red when I washed of the gel. I was told it would last three months. It washed off my fingers and palm easily over the next week after that, but the henna on my nails is still there, so that is growing out.

Official talking with relatives
The next morning I got up early to go back over to the house. I went to the buffet at the hotel and got lots of looks like I normally do, but more so at my left hand. I wasn't in a baju kurung, but was dressed in a nice dress. The bride was getting ready for the ceremony. They always clear the furniture out of the houses and set it outside so people can sit outside when visiting or sit on the floors in the house. Several canopies were set up down the street for eating later in the day. The bride and groom throne area and their table for eating was all set up. About 10a.m. the groom's procession came into the living room area. The gifts from the bride to the groom were set up in the middle of the room on different pedestals. The groom's procession brought his gifts for her and her dowry. All of the women from the bride's side sat on the floor in the dining area which is up two steps from the living area. The beginning of the ceremony akad nikah the bride stayed in the bridal room. The religious official talks to relatives of the groom and checks to make sure all is agreeable.  At this point the circle that was around the room adjusts as the groom moves right next to the official and there are men that are supporting the groom that make a circle  joining up with him. So, it was actually like a circle within a circle.

The Statement

Then the groom and the bride's father clasp hands and they have a required statement that they must make all in one breath to show honesty. The father of the bride for this ceremony was crying and so they had to do it three times as he couldn't make it all the way through the saying without taking a breath, but he finally got it.

Signing the contract

Signing the contract

At that point the bride comes out from the bridal room and sits at the other side of the room from her husband. He is given the contract first which he signs and then it is passed to her and she signs it. After that gifts are presented to each other.

Presenting the dowry.

 Then people move out of the way and pictures are taken with the gifts and he presents her with the dowry. The grooms have a set amount that they must provide RM200, but this groom presented her with more. He also had the money shaped into roses. This is also when they exchange their rings. After that they went outside to take more pictures around the house. The rest of us had a snack until lunch time. We hung out and chatted with people. Once the pictures were done, then the groom went back and changed clothes for the bersanding.
Changing outfits

The Royal Thrones
After that the bride went in and changed her clothes while the groom was visiting with the guest. Several of us joined the bride to help her pick out the accessories for her outfit. They rent the baju kurung for the two bersandings and it is tailored to fit them. The one for the wedding ceremony was her older sister's that she had tailored to fit her. She did have a different veil and accessories. They also rent packets that have faux jewels in brooches, hair accessories, necklaces, etc. Once she had changed she went out and they got on their royal thrones. People came and threw flowers at them giving them blessings. Then they went and ate their food. I joined other people under the canopies in the road for food and fellowship. The next day they were going to do the bersanding at the groom's parents' house and they were going to have different outfits to wear.

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