A traditional Malay wedding is one of the most diverse, not to mention lavish, cultural traditions in the world. An amalgamation of local and Islamic customs, there are numerous activities that are included in the Malay wedding tradition. The local tradition, melded with tenets of Islam, celebrates the couple’s marriage in a ceremony fit for royalty.
The Malay wedding is steeped in Asian culture, and is split into six auspicious occasions.
Adat Merisik, also known as the ‘seeking ceremony’, is a crucial Malaysian tradition, especially in arranged marriages. When a man is ready to settle down with the woman, his family performs a background check on her.
When the man announces his intention to marry the woman, the couple’s families meet to discuss the plan for the wedding. Both the families then set an engagement date. Adat Bertunang is a symbol that announces that the man and his woman have been brought together at last.
This tradition is full of fun, and witnessing it itself can be quite the experience. Three days before the wedding, the bride’s friends and relatives are invited to view her wardrobe. A day after this, the actual wedding ceremony begins with the henna-staining ceremony. Yellowish oil, extracted from henna leaves, is applied on the fingertips of the couple by friends and relatives, to announce the forthcoming marriage.
Akad Nikah or the marriage contract is the first formal part of Malay wedding, as per the Islamic and civil laws. It is believed to give the marriage its sanctity. In this ceremony, the marriage is solemnised before religious officials. The groom promises the bride that he will take care of her and provide her a family.
During the Bersanding, the couple sits next to each other on a sofa called the Pelamin. This is a mark of approval and blessing. Loved ones and guests sprinkle the couple with scented water and yellow rice. The guests are given a Bunga Telur, an ornamented egg festooned with a flower, as a sign of fertility.
Here the couple is treated like king and queen. People in royal court costumes serve the newlywed, while others act like royal guards and perform a demonstration of the traditional martial art called Silat. Musicians also play Malay court music. After this, the couple lead their guests to a banquet which consists of delicious sweets and savoury dishes from the exotic Malaysian cuisine. The banquet can continue from noon till evening and delicious dishes like chicken curry, beef rendang, Sayur Lemak (vegetables cooked with coconut milk), and oil rice are served.
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