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By: Atika Zamimi.

I would like to thank my civics teacher, Mrs. Azizul for giving me the opportunity to produce a folio about a Malay Wedding and helped me along the lines to finish it with her hard work and patience. Second, I would like to thank my parents, Mr. Zamimi and Mrs. Norita for providing me as much information about Malay Weddings as they could and allowing me to use the computer and internet for my research. And of course, to my fellow peers at school who have helped me so much in explaining the ‘what’ and ‘how’ during the period of making this folio. Finally, I would like to thank those who have been helping me behind the scenes such as local wedding planners, my other family members and also a few magazine editors for giving me as much knowledge as possible. A big clap for all of you who helped, you deserved it.

The objectives in creating this folio are:

. Explain the concept of a Malay Wedding.

. Describe the events in a Malay Wedding.

. Identify the customs in a Malay Wedding.

. List down the taboos stuffs in a Malay Wedding.

In the process of making this folio, I have used a few methods such as:

. The internet: I have made use of the asset of the World Wide Web to help me discover more details about my research.

. Human resources: I have asked family members, neighbors and also a few friends about attending and/or carrying out their duties during Malay Weddings to provide me personal experiences.

. Observation: I have attended a few weddings for the past months and also lend a hand in my uncle’s wedding a few months ago so I could have my own experience in handling a wedding.

“THE START OF A LIFETIME, TOGETHER” Ah~ A wedding. A glorious day full of joy, happiness and understanding. A beautiful day where two people who are in love are finally united in a sacred bond. Such a historical event that I’m sure every couple will find it hard to forget. A wedding basically indicates unity between two people in marriage and is known as a common ceremony throughout the world, literally. In this case, weddings differ greatly between cultures, ethnic groups, religions,
countries, and social classes but the definition on a wedding stays the same. Every culture has their own wedding ceremony in different ways. And saying so, I will be telling the story of the traditional MALAY WEDDING which is rich with cultural customs and interesting events which happen before, during and after the wedding through the eyes of the old and the new generation.

. The definition of a Malay Wedding.
A Malay wedding is usually performed when either one or both spouses are Malay. Malaysian law defines a Malay person as a Muslim (Though not all Malays are Muslim). Malay weddings are grand affairs where the couple is treated as royalty for the day where they are known as “Raja Sehari”, meaning “King of the Day”. The traditional wedding ceremony is divided into two parts. The first part is the akad nikah (marriage contract), which is the legal and religious part of the wedding. The second part is the bersanding (enthronement), which is a family celebration. It is usual for the two parts to be celebrated over two days. However, it is becoming common for there to be a gap between the parts of the wedding, during which the couple are legally married, but saving up for an elaborate bersanding and at times there will be couples who will held both the parts a day after which starts with the akad nikah. In cases where the couple has family spread around the world, a number of bersanding may be held in different countries to allow everyone to wish the couple well as well as getting to reunite with old and new relatives. A few events are held before the wedding takes place to make sure the couple will be comfortable and look beautiful for the ceremony itself and they are either traditional customs or taboos that have been handed down by their ancestors (some are true and some are superstitions).

. The events in a Malay Wedding;

Adat Merisik
The adat merisik (asking ceremony or more literally 'spying custom') is the traditional Malay system for arranging marriages. In the old days, when it is time for a young man to get married, his family will look around to identify a number of potential brides and he is then told to consider each and every women and pick his choice to be his bride. Nowadays, the man might suggest to his family who he would like them to consider, and it may be that a romantic link already exists between the man and woman. Having decided upon one particular woman, the merisik, or “investigation process”, takes place.

For this ceremony one or more representatives (wakil) of the man's family (usually the parents) pay a friendly visit to the family of the woman whom he has in mind as his potential bride. The visit is purely for the purpose of further investigation, and it gives the visitors the chance to see the woman. A hint will be given to her parents regarding the purpose of the visit, and their reaction will be assessed. The woman's parents may also give the visitors some idea as to whether or not their daughter would be interested in the match. The merisik does not constitute a formal proposal. Following the visit both sides can begin to think more seriously about the possibility or otherwise of a marriage. It is possible that no progress may take place, but nowadays the merisik is done after both parties have known the relationship of the couple and so is usually accepted.

Adat Bertunang
As soon as a man announces his wish to marry, an engagement date will be set when families of the couple meet to discuss the wedding plans. The adat bertunang (engagement custom) is normally held at the bride's home. This is when the man’s side of the family visits the woman’s side of the family and both parties provide gifts or the hantaran. These could be things such as a set of clothes, shoes, fruits, handbags, prayer mats (sejadah) and the Qur’an. On this day the date for the wedding ceremony (akad nikah) and the various other conditions and requirements will be also confirmed by both parties. Once all such matters have been resolved, the bridegroom’s representatives will hand over all the gifts (hantaran) items. But the most important item in a tunang ceremony is a ring from the man’s side of the family. During the ceremony, the ring will be placed upon the future bride’s finger by a female relative of the man’s family such as the mother, elder sister or aunt. The future bride will all this while be in her chamber, by tradition. The wearing of the ring represents the status of the woman as “future wife” or simply “not available” to other men other than her future husband. After everything is done, the man’s side of the family will leave the house and the wedding preparation will start.

Akad Nikah
A Malay wedding begins with the akad nikah (marriage contract) ceremony. The groom signs the marriage contract and agrees to provide the bride with a mas kahwin (mahar, literally 'marriage gold' in form of money or goods or anything as requested by the bride). It is opposite to dowry where the mas kahwin is paid by the groom to the bride. The mas kahwin is a symbol to show that the men is willing and are prepared to build a family with the lady he chose to get married to. The contract signing is done before a religious official and is accompanied by prayer. The Akad Nikah is the actual religious solemnisation of the marriage. While all the other ceremonies performed in a Malay wedding before the Akad Nikah and after it may be considered as derived from the traditional culture of the Malays, and may even be omitted, the Akad Nikah is an Islamic ceremony which without no marriage is valid. Consent of both the bride and the bridegroom must be obtained, and the religious official (usually a kadhi) conducting the marriage must make sure the marriage is entered into willingly by both the parties. At times the marriage solemnization is in fact done by the girl’s father in the presence of religious officials. In a brief sermon given by the officials, the bridegroom and the bride will receive a briefing on their rights and responsibilities as a married couple, particularly from the Islamic perspective. There must be two official witnesses at the Akad Nikah. A marriage certificate will be issued by the kadhi or State Religious Council representatives following the ceremony, and this is to be signed by the bridegroom, the bride as well as the witnesses.

Preparation night
If the bersanding is to take place the next day, the couple's hands are dyed with henna during the berinai besar (great henna-ing) ceremony. The ceremony of Berinai involves the staining of the couple’s hands with henna. Lesser or greater berinai ceremonies are held three times. The first is the Berinai Curi takes place three nights before the akad nikah with the participation of close relatives and friends only. The second is the Berinai Kecil. Takes place two nights before the wedding ceremony with the participation of family members, neighbours and close friends. And lastly the Berinai Besar is usually held after the completion of the akad nikah. Of the three ceremonies, the berinai besar is the major one. The lesser ones may take place in private, usually with the participation of women only. For the berinai besar the newly married couple sit on the specially decorated dais (pelamin). Family members from both sides take turns to apply henna to the hands of the seated couple. Rice and a mixture of flour may also be applied to the palms and foreheads of the couple, as a sign of blessing. The Adat Berinai is intended to cleanse both the young person’s now married to each other. Henna is regarded as a blessed item, that is, it is used as a means of cleansing and protection from evil or malicious influences.

The actual wedding day is the Bersanding. This literally means the "sitting together of the bride and bridegroom on the bridal couch". Known as the Pelamin, this couch is the centrepiece of the whole ceremony, and two pelamins are required - one in the bride's house and the other in the bridegroom's.

Before the bersanding, the bride's hair is trimmed, eyebrows shaped and make-up applied by a beautician, known as the “mak andam”. Then the bride puts on her tudung (hijab or headscarf) to cover their hair and a selendang, or embroidered and beaded shawl over that. A crown is also placed on top of the shawl to make her look beautiful. As the Bersanding ceremony customarily takes place in the afternoon, the bridegroom entertains guests at his own house in the morning. The bersanding (enthronement) ceremony begins with the groom's procession with friends, relatives, musicians and people waving bunga manggar (palm blossom) to meet the bride. Often various good-humoured attempts are made to waylay or stop the groom from getting to the bride. The main part of the bersanding involves the seating of the bridal couple on a dais and sprinkling them with yellow rice and scented water (air mawar which is rose water) by family members, relatives and guests as a sign of blessing. Each guest will receive a bunga telur (literally translated as “egg flower”), a decorated egg with a fabric flower, as a sign of fertility. The couple are considered royalty for the day, and so various royal customs are performed for them, including musicians playing court music and 'bodyguards' performing a display of Silat (traditional Malay martial arts).

After the bersanding ceremony
After the bersanding ceremony, the wedded couple and their guests attend a celebratory feast called the makan beradab (formal meal). This involves the bride and groom feeding each other sweetened rice. The guests are also provided with food and everyone eats under the same canopy with the bride and groom. The celebrations are concluded by posing for family photographs with the wedded couple and in the end, everyone retires to their home. This event provides the opportunity to strengthen the unity between the two sides of the family together, giving them a chance to know each other.

. The taboos stuffs and customs in a Malay Wedding. In most Malay Weddings, a few taboos and customs are carried before, during and also after the wedding. Here are a few listed down: 1. The couple must not go out with each other for 40 days before the wedding 2. The couple must not sleep in each other’s homes to avoid accusations from the society. 3. The couple is not advised to pleasure themselves in their own way. 5. They must avoid eating raw vegetables. 7. Learn the ‘art’ of household from married relatives. 8. Avoid bathing with cold water at night. 9. Either couple must avoid walking around in a silent place alone. 10. The couple must not meet up personally with other men/women. 11. Read the verses from the Qur’an every night. 12. Throw his/her old clothes (only one) up onto the roof of the house to prevent it from raining on the day of the bersanding.

Most of the prohibitions and customs are made years ago to make sure that the couple and/or the relatives are safe and everything goes smoothly during a wedding. It also helps the to-be-wed couple to face their household life in the future. Though one must not take them very seriously, customs and taboos are only according to the old Malay society that may be practiced or not.

From this research I have learned to appreciate the unique culture of the Malay Wedding. I have explored the insides and outs in the stages of preparing a wedding from the quiet and secretive merisik to the glorious bersanding. These have proved to increase my knowledge in handling the places, people and overall presentation in a Malay Wedding. It has taught me the courtesy of the Malay community and also their cooperation in making this historical day happens. Indeed, this is a day one must not miss to turn up in.

Note: All pictures in this segment are taken, owned and distributed by myself, Atika Zamimi, and may not be copied or printed in any way without my permission, thank you. These photos are taken during my uncle’s wedding on 2011/06/03.





1) INTERNET:   

2) PEOPLE:   Norita Harun, 39. 160, Jalan Jasa 8, Taman Jasa, 68100, Batu Caves, Selangor. Norazlan Harun, 26. 124, Jalan Setia, Gombak Setia, 68100, Gombak, Selangor.

3) MAGAZINE:   Mingguan Wanita, 5-11 Ogos 2011, Kumpulan Karangkraf.
Wanita - Edisi Khas Perkahwinan.

4) EXPERIENCE:  Attended Norazlan Harun’s wedding which took place at 2011/06/03.

1) Title 2) Contents 3) Acknowledgements 4) Objectives 5) Methods 6) Research findings    The Definition of a Malay Wedding The events in a Malay Wedding The taboos and customs in a Malay Wedding.

7) Summary 8) Attachments 9) References 10) Last words

To end this folio, I would like to give a big thank you, again, towards those who have given tremendous help in the collaboration of this masterpiece. I hope that the readers would enjoy the contents of this folio and gain knowledge of the cultures in one of Malaysia’s most celebrated events. I would like to say though, that there may be some mixed up information in these words of mine and for that I extend my apologies if I have offended or slighted any parties in the lines of my discovery. I am but a learning child. This folio is purely made to extend knowledge and experiences and is not meant to be a joke. But as I said earlier, one may not follow all these steps exactly as written. Now, I shall thank you, the reader, for lending me your eyes and time to take a peek into my writings. Bless you all.