Friday, April 6, 2007

March Feature : Ceremonies Before Weddings: Dating and Engagements

Before the commencement of any wedding ceremony of a malay couple, it is part of tradition as well as out of respect for the young man’s family to pay a courtesy call to the family of the young lady that he is wooing. This visit is often an informal one in the malay community but there is a name for it, Berisik-risik or Bersuruh.

In the golden days, representatives from the young man’s family will pay a visit to the young lady’s family on his behalf to seek out if the young lady is promised to another person. If not, then, the young man’s family will seek the young ladys’ family’s permission for her to be wooed by their grandson, son, nephew or brother, depending on who the head of the entourage is, may it be his grandfather, father, his uncle or his brother. Bare in mind, this is what they did in the past. Times have changed since then. In this day and age, the dating stage of a couple often comes first and later on in the relationship, if both adolescents are sure serious about each other then this informal ceremony will be carried out.

At this ritual, upon approval of the young lady’s family for her to be wooed by the young man, a ring is presented as a symbol of the start of their friendship. This ring is known as Pembuka Mulut which can be seen as a friendship ring or a promise ring. This traditional procedure is merely a sign of approval from both sides of the family to allow the two lovebirds to court and go out together. Sometimes, both parties will continue to discuss engagement and possible wedding arrangements.

The Engagement ceremony or formally known as Majlis Menerima/Menghantar Tanda Tunang often takes place a month or so before the actual wedding as most of the older generation superstitiously believe that it is not a good idea to have long engagements. Yet, there are many couples who proceed with engagements and stay engaged for several years before setting a wedding date.

During this engagement ceremony, both families, once
again, rejoice to celebrate the engagement. The family of the groom-to-be will make their way to the house of the future bride bearing the engagement ring or Cincin Tunang and sometimes other gifts too, depending on the individuals. During this ceremony, the groom's entourage will take this opportunity to request for the list of wedding gifts that are desired by the bride.

Traditionally, a scrumptious buffet of food, prepared by the bride’s family, is laid out for the groom’s family. Upon end of discussion between the two families and before proceeding to the refreshments, the mother of the groom will make her way to the bride’s room. On behalf of her son, the groom’s mother will place the engagement ring on the bride’s finger. This certain ritual, practiced by a small percentage of the society, is called “Penyarungan”.

Discussions in progress

Ladies Tentatively listening in


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