Weddings, am I right? In any part of the world, every culture has its own wedding rites, rituals and traditions to adhere to, the same goes for Malay weddings. So much goes into a Malay wedding and while most of us are familiar with it, many are still wondering what goes on first as the terms can get quite confusing for those who don’t speak the language (well). Most Malay ceremonies adhere to Islamic culture and convention. This time around, we are going to share with you the various traditions in Malay weddings that you may or may not know. Next time someone asks you about it, point them to this article!
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A marriage in the Malay culture is traditionally initiated by merisik, which literally means to investigate or inquire privately. It is a process to further understand and learn about the backgrounds of both families, and whether the prospective bride is agreeable to the marriage. The future groom’s parents or relatives will informally enquire and seek consent from the girl as well as her parents. A proposal will then be made if the girl is found to be acceptable. Basically, in other words, this is the ceremony to “chup” the girl.
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Meminang comes right after merisik, once the girl has been “chupped“. It is customary then for the groom’s family to send a group of representatives to formally ask for the bride’s hand in marriage during this ceremony. Once the couple are committed to each other, both families will set a date and time for the engagement.
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An engagement ceremony will be held after the proposal. The engagement will be made official after the representative of the groom, either a sister or mother puts a ring on the finger of his future wife. Both sides will exchange trays of gifts, sometimes including a dowry (in a more conservative setting). On this day, a proposed wedding date is set and the various other conditions and requirements will also be confirmed by both families.
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Now, it’s time to make things official for the couple! Akad nikah is part of the marriage ceremony. This formal aspect of the marriage normally takes place at the bride’s house, or in a mosque on the eve of the wedding. This involves the presence of a kadi (who is a religious official) or a Muslim marriage officiant such as an Imam that presides over the ceremony. A Wali (usually the father of the bride, or the next male kin in the family’s hierarchy – her brother, paternal grandfather or paternal uncle in that order) is also involved during the akad nikah to hand the bride away. The ceremony involves the typical exchange of vows as well as responsibilities, which the groom must declare out loud and clearly to all present, in one breath!
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Malam berinai is done a few days prior to the wedding day. It involves the staining of the couples’ hands and feet in henna. Their relatives and friends will also gather in this intimate ceremony. Although Malam berinai is not customarily mandatory in the Islamic tradition, modern couples still prefer to partake in this ceremony!
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If you have been invited to a Malay wedding, try not to miss this most exciting part of the entire marriage. Bersanding or the sitting-in-state ceremony happens right after the akad nikah, and can happen on both the groom as well as the bride’s side. The married couple will dress stunningly during this ceremony. Both will be treated like the king and queen of the day as guests offer blessings and congratulations. The bersanding ceremony is accompanied by feasting and merry-making, which is referred to as the kenduri.
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