Wednesday, August 13, 2008
"Langkah bendul" is a Malay term for the act of a person getting married before their older sibling(s). In the case of last weekend's wedding, this is true for both the bride and the groom - Kamilah is the third in our family, and Shazni is the second, and both are the first in their siblings to get hitched.
In Malay culture, the groom and the bride are the king and queen for the day, and thus the wedding regalia is derived from the royal regalia of Malay kings and queen. The wedding altar, known as 'pelamin', is also derived from the royal thrones of Malay royalties.
The photo above is of my sister Kamilah and her groom Shazni. Behind them, hidden from view is the 'pelamin', which was set up in the living room of our house in Seremban.
Modern Malay weddings also have certain western cultural elements incorporated, such as the cutting of the wedding cake.
My duty for the wedding day is mostly to (along with my father) greet and receive guests as they come. In Malaysia, when guests shake hands with the hosts, a 'salam keruk' is done. This is just like a 'spit-shake', only in place of the spit is some amount of money - usually a significant amount, something in the range of ten ringgits to fifty ringgits, sometimes more, depending on the generosity of the guests. For much larger amounts, the money is usually put in a special envelope and given to the host family later. In our case, the largest amount received was eight hundred ringgits in a single unsigned envelope.
Traditional Malay weddings are done in multiple ceremonies, the actual wedding receptions being two of them. The one we had last Sunday was the one hosted by the bride's family (our family) and all the guests were invited by the family of the bride. Customarily this is when the groom gets to meet most of the extended family members of his bride, and he gets introduced to every single family member that was present. In Malay culture, when someone shakes the hand of an older, more respected person, that someone has to use both hands and kiss the the palm of the respected person. In the photo above, the groom (Shazni) is introduced to my grandfather, and so he kisses my grandfather's palm as a sign of respect. Also, in Malay culture, the kiss is not done using the upper and lower lips, but by the bottom part of the nose and the upper part of the upper lip.
When a person does a 'langkah bendul', he or she is required to present gifts to his or her older siblings who are unmarried, as a sign of respect, and according to some, as consolation or token of appreciation for allowing him/her to 'overstep' them in getting married. In the photo above, Kamilah and Shazni present gifts to me and my sister Una (who is currently doing a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Miyazaki, Japan).
I just think this photo is cute. My youngest brother Abu, eating a mixed fruit pudding.
Kamilah and Shazni with their heap of wedding gifts. They're mostly kitchen appliances and tablewares.
After the groom's family has left the bride's house, the groom is required to stay behind to help with the cleaning. In some parts of Malaysia, the groom (sometimes with the help of the bride) has to wash and clean the biggest, largest, dirtiest pots and woks. I have heard from some people that in addition to cleaning the filthiest pots and woks, the groom is also splashed with soapy water, but we did not observe this.
The next step would be the wedding reception at the groom's house, called the 'majlis menyambut menantu' (welcoming the new daughter in-law ceremony). The reception at Shazni's house will be done this coming Saturday, so I'll update later after the event so I can accompany the explanations with photos. In the meantime, I welcome any comments or questions about the wedding or Malay weddings in general.