Recently I was invited to Azhar Mahfof and Yulia’s wedding so I thought I’ll give you a peek into what happens in a typical Malay wedding. Azhar Mahfof is a photographer from The Star.
On Sunday November 4, 2007, the couple were married. The marriage treated the groom and the bride as king and queen for the day.
Usually in Malay weddings, they will hold two receptions; one at the bride’s house and another one at the groom’s side. As this was the bride’s turn to have the reception, a whole group of us from Star Photo went to support him. It is quite difficult to find the bride’s house at Kampong Kerdas, Gombak Selangor.
Long tables were set up under the tents in front of the house for the wedding guests to sit and eat. The little pot which you can see on most of the tables, it contains water so you can wash your hands before you eat your food. There were fork and spoon for the non malay guests too.
Marriage is a contract, and the akad nikah effectively forges the union. The akad nikah ceremony is in effect a verbal contract between the bride’s father or his representative (in this case the kadhi) and the groom. The dialogue must be articulated clearly as to be heard by three witnesses
The simplicity of this ritual belies the tremendous responsibilities of the groom to care for his bride, and this is reinforced in a brief lecture on marriage and its responsibilities delivered later by the kadhi. The groom is also reminded that, should he fail to provide both spiritual and physical sustenance for his wife, the marriage may be dissolved if a complaint is made to the Syariat Court.
One needs to distinguish the mas kahwin and the hantaran (dowry). The small sum of the mas kahwin is to ensure that even poor people could marry, for marriage is encouraged for all healthy Muslims. The hantaran, on the other hand, is more customary and may go into thousands of dollars. Often, the hantaran takes the form of both cash and jewelry or clothing.
The istiadat hantar belanja (sending of dowry and gifts) and upacara akad nikah (solemnization) often take place at the bride’s place. The recent trend, though, is to hold the solemnization in the mosque as was performed during the Prophet Muhammad’s (saws) time. The solemnization is usually conducted by the kadhi (marriage official) in front of witnesses after both partners are asked separately if they consent to the marriage. Gifts are then exchanged and there may be a recitation of the Quran.
Gifts from the groom are checked to ensure that they are as promised. They will then be displayed in the bridal chamber. Gifts of clothes, toiletries and even prayer mats (to signify their adherence to the religion) are presented in intricate boxes or forms known as gubahan.
After the akad nikah ceremony , relatives and friends then process and they will have a walking procession to the bride’s house. It was just a few minutes walk but the groom who is also known as “raja sehari” (Malay for the king for the day) was escorted to the house under a yellow umbrella and bearers of bungga manggar (the decorative flowers at the side). Sounds of the kompang (drums being beaten) heralded the arrival of the groom. The bride greets him with a kiss on his hand and they are led away to the bersanding ceremony
Then it is time for the bersanding ceremony, where the groom and bride will sit on the pelamin (Malay for dais) that is specially prepared and decorated.
They are attended by two friends who will fan them while the sit in state looking like a king and queen for the day. You can see some nicely decorated flowers at the bottom of their feet. Those are the bunga telur (Malay for flower egg), which is traditionally given out to those who bless the happy couple. The egg symbolises a fertile union and the hope that the marriage will produce many children.
Happy Marriage and enjoy the moment of life as husband and wife.
Pictures taken by Kamarul Ariffin/The Star
More photos on Azhar’s Album