Wednesday, October 13, 2010

malay weddings - past and present

black and white photo from national archives of s'pore

the arrival of the bridegroom is still heralded by the hadrah troupe. the group will beat the hand-held kompang and sing verses from the koran. the groom is flanked by the two bunga mangga carriers, friends and relatives. in the past, they used colour crepe papers to fold the bunga mangga. these days, they use shining aluminium-like papers. bmw and mpv have replaced the modest japanese cars as wedding cars.

in my kampong days, aside from the troupe beating the kompang, there were some who dressed up as warriors and they 'rode' on cardboard horses (kuda kepang). there would also be a small group who performed the malay art of self defence, silat. i also remember watching one performance where the exponents each used a kris. this kind of performances is rarely seen nowadays.

generally, malay weddings were noisy and lively affairs and in this respect, they still are. usually, a malay band would be in attendance. nowadays, instead of kroncongs, you hear more of malay pop songs. if i recall correctly, there were also joget sessions at these weddings during those kampong days. today, some have done away with the malay band. they just hire a deejay to play cds on a karaoke or sound system. all the noise is to add to the merriment for the day.

i have always admired the gotong royong spirit of the malays. friends, neighbours and relatives would all help in the preparations for the big day. they would camp overnight at the venue of the wedding ceremony. the cooking of the food for the wedding feast actually started the day before, usually on a friday or saturday night. even the decorations for the 'banquet' were done by amateurs. nowadays, some make use of the services of event companies to give it that elegant touch and they also use caterers to provide the restaurant type of food. the caterers will come on the morning of the kenduri to cook the food.

though most continue to use the void decks of the hdb block or the community halls as venues for the bersanding, some have moved on to community clubs, restaurants and hotels. in those kampong days, as we, the guests, were leaving, we would be presented with a red egg placed in a small cup or container and a stalk of artificial flower. the name for it is bunga telur. these days, most gifts are commercially prepared and may take the form of a miniature vase, a few pieces of chocolates, a small towel, a piece of fruit cake, miniature cutlery, rolled up handkerchief, an ornamental display set, a glass cup, a crystal plate or a cake of soap. i know a friend who made a trip to bangkok to buy these small gifts for her wedding. the more traditional malays still retain the practice of giving away boiled eggs, some with no colouring. these eggs are restricted to relatives and close friends of the families.

most chinese or indians, when invited to a malay wedding, will normally give the host or hostess an ang pow. back in those kampong days, we would normally wrap a small ang pow, usually not exceeding $5. when i was working and when invited to my malay colleagues' weddings, i normally gave between $10 and $20. today's a reasonable amount would be between $30 and $50, especially if the food is catered and the ceremony is held in a community club or restaurant.


Uncle Lee said...

Hi YG, love the pics.
I used to attend many Malay friends weddings, love the food served too.
And yes, love the red eggs in tiny colourful baskets.

I have when young even helped to sprinkle bunga rampai on wedding bed, but was watched carefully I did not hide the long pillow, ha ha.
Have a nice day, Lee.

yg said...

lee, yes, like the rendang, nasi briyani or nasi minyak and curry.
you have a very good memory. yes, now i remember the little basket with a handle!

Anonymous said...

Hi , thanks for your rave view on the difference , now being in the modern living , its sad that such fun and inspirational learning values are not there anymore. i really enjoy the pictures. Thanks!