We were in Kota Bharu during the last days of May. It was a gathering of sorts for the family as another nephew weds again. The truth is that we have many nephews and nieces and it is customary and obligatory that we attend their grandest day when possible. Moreover this happened to be my sister's son and being the school holiday season we too joined the bandwagon of holiday makers. Kota Bharu as always attracted visitors all over the country during the holiday season and this is no exception. The routes into the city were jammed with cars and buses and wedding receptions during the holiday period added to the chaotic situation. Nevertheless we salute the motorists for adjusting to the situation and took things calmly. However this is not the crux of the story. The wedding is and especially one its enduring characteristics.
Malay or any other ethnic wedding has its religious and cultural significances etched by years of practice. Some may be recent additions brought about by the explosive modern and border less society. Still the old die-hards remained though we questioned whether their existence and practice are clearly understood or just done out of mere casualty. The significance of things becomes an issue.
The two photos you see here highlighted the question at hand and seek to find the relevance and significance. More seriously do we understand and practise all its rudiments or do it with all its frills?
The bridegroom or more specifically the husband since both have been solemnly married now gives his partner in life the first mouthful. It signifies their precious moment and happiest of couple. Rightly it vouched for the husband's duty to look and care for her and the family. Then it was a mouthful of yellow rice rolled up into a small ball piece that became the medium. Now it could be a small piece of cake or a spoonful of rice with added dishes. It was more elaborate before with the respective parents giving the 'mouthful' to their children as their last acts as parents and ending their responsibilities to them while also accepting their extended family when they feed their respective son or daughter- in- laws. Sadly we observe presently it stopped with the photo session and the parents are no where to be seen obviously busy entertaining the hundreds of guests.
Secondly as in the photo below the bride and bridegroom have their first meeting after the 'akad nikah'. This solemnised meeting is politely signified as 'membatalkan air sembahyang'. Both must realise their obligations to one another and that consequences to their actions they must observe the tenets of Islam and not forgetting the five daily prayers per day. It enjoined upon both to always support and advise one another in the course of their future lives.
Other consequences and observations during the wedding ceremony perhaps need to be elaborated less their significances are lost or eclipsed by other injunctions or wants from modern tendencies.
My brief looks at other ethnic weddings where 'feeding the bride or bridegroom' has become a tradition too is certainly worthy for exploration.