WEDDINGS IN MALAYSIA
From the moment the intention to marry blossoms in a man, to the time when he is united with his wife, marriage rites of the three largest ethnic groups in Malaysia is filled with traditional ceremonies and customs. A brief glimpse into the marriage ceremonies of the Malay, Indian and Chinese reveals some of its highlights. The Malays have perfected the art of subtlety when approaching the bride’s family to ask for her hand in marriage and this line is invariably one of the subtle, poetic exchanges that take place. The representative of the groom, typically a male relative, is usually accompanied by a small entourage bearing trays of gifts including, among others, a betelnut leaves arrangement, an engagement ring and sweets. On the morning of the wedding day the bride and groom will perform a special ablution bath as required in Islam. The focus of a traditional Malay wedding is the akad nikah or marriage vow, which is overseen by the imam in front of witnesses. The imam then will confirm with the witnesses if the vow was clearly heard and once they confirm this, he will lead the congregation with a doa to conclude the ceremony and ask for blessings from God. In some respect, the traditional Malay wedding ceremony bears similarity to the Indian wedding ceremony. Before the advent of Islam, Hindu was the most prolific religion in this region and this has been attributed to these similarities, which include, among others, the mandi lulur. Like the Indians, a day before the wedding, traditional Malay bride and groom would often partake in a mandi lulur – a special bath scrub whose ingredients includes turmeric powder – in their respective homes. The majlis berinai – whereby the bride will have henna applied onto her hands and feet – is also reminiscent of the mehndi ceremony in an Indian wedding. The bersanding ceremony, highly similar to the use of mandapa in Indian weddings, is also an important aspect of a...
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