Monday, June 11, 2007

Feature: Brunei Wedding Ceremonies II

Akad Nikah

The Majlis Akad Nikah acts as the solemnization Ceremony where marriage between two couples become official in black and white. It is presided over by a religious official and basically just involves the groom. Although the bride's signature is needed to sign the official documents, she need not be present as the main ceremony as her Wali, most often the bride's father or brother, will represent her at the ceremony. Yet, during these modern times, the bride prefers to be there, just quietly sitting behind her groom, silently supporting her significant other, tentatively witnessing the ceremony and patiently waiting for her groom to sign those legal documents that will bind them both for eternity as man & wife.

In this day and age, when the groom and his entourage arrive, they are invited into the bride's home. Once the groom and his entourage are comfortably sitting, the ceremony will begin by bringing the beautiful bride out and seating her behind the groom. The groom will be seated on a cushion, Kasur Namat facing the position of the kiblat within four candles. The religious official will be seated in front of the groom. The ceremony often goes on for about twenty minutes of which during this time, the groom is given a talk by the religious official as well as recites his vows. Sometimes it will go on for a longer period of time depending on how perfect the groom can say "Sahaja aku terima nikahnya dengan (brides full name) dengan mas kahwinnya (amount of dowry) tunai" and in one breath too.

Besides the presence of the Imam, the groom and the bride's father, four more gentlemen are required to witness the solemnization. These witnesses are the ones to approve if the groom has recited his vows in one breath in a loud and clear voice. Upon agreeing, the Imam will then make it official. Although the marriage is now official, traditionally, both bride and groom will not yet spend the night together until their bersanding day, which acts somewhat like their official wedding ceremony where everyone is invited.

Majlis Bersanding

Both sides of the Bride & Groom's family will host a scrumptious buffet for their guests in their respective homes. The groom will then make his way to his brides residence. Both Bride and Groom are dressed in matching traditional woven gold threaded material. The groom will turn in circles three times before he enters, this is known as Pusing si-Naga. The bride will be patiently waiting on the wedding dais for the arrival of her groom to join her as king and queen of the day.

As the bride and groom are seated together on the wedding stage, it is officially the first time the newly-weds are seen together by everyone as Husband and Wife. During this time, friends, relatives and other loved ones avail this opportunity to take photographs of the newly-weds and with them on the wedding stage.

Majlis Ambil-Ambilan

The day is not normally the end for some newly-weds after the Bersanding Ceremony. Since the atmosphere is more than merry at the Bride's Residence, another ceremony is held on the night of their Bersanding. This ceremony is called Ambil-Ambilan. The guest list is limited to family members and close friends. This ceremony can also be seen as a Thanks-giving ceremony. The attire for the Bride and Groom on this night may vary from the traditional songket wedding attire or as they do nowadays is wear the European style of a white bridal gown for the bride and a tuxedo or suit for the groom. This ceremony gives the opportunity for the bride and groom to greet as well as pay their respects to all family members of both families.

As I can recall from an aunt's wedding over ten years ago, for the first three days after the Bersanding ceremony, both bride and groom are not allowed to step foot out of the house. They will just stay indoors until their next and final ceremony three days later, Muleh Tiga Hari.

Majlis Muleh Tiga Hari

The final Ceremony to complete the wedding is the Muleh Tiga Hari, loosely translated, 'Return after three days'. The newly-weds will dress up in their matching traditional woven material again and make their way to the groom's residence. There, it will be the groom's family who will host a scrumptious meal for the family. It is also on this day that gifts received from guests on the bersanding day are opened. As always, this ceremony will be a joyous one as it marks the end of the wedding ceremonies and the beginning of the journey of marriage.


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