Sunday, July 24, 2011


   The representatives performed their duties on behalf of the two families.

Now, that is interesting! Who at this stage of life would go about on such a mission? Are you that  timid or shake your head in disbelief when given the task ? Interestingly, age would not halt a person on a mission of the heart. Would that be true? In fact the elders are always sought for. Maybe their wisdom and experience help.

            The mother of the bridegroom to be met  the young woman who would be her daughter- in- law. Here she is placing an engagement ring on the woman's finger.

I am of course referring to our Malay and Muslim 'adat' of 'masuk meminang'. Meaning of course ' the trials of visitation of a family home in respect of finding the availability of a maiden for marriage'. Wow that sounded complexity at its extreme. No wonder they would prefer an elderly person to perform that given task. Nevertheless the whole issue or practice has been modified concurrent with time. Not that you are rushing or entering into a home without due knowledge of the availability of the maiden in question. 

Of late I have seen  requests for advice in respect of boyfriends to enter into 'meminang' since many seems to shy away and as such the fairer sex question the delay of their engagement and marriage.  "Meminang" translates mean ' an appointment to visit a home in respect of asking for a hand in marriage beginning with solemnizing an 'engagement'. No,It is not done by just placing a ring on a finger and declaring that 'we are engaged and let's get married'.

It is true that back in the 1950's or earlier when dating was not in style and the male youth hardly meet or know a female partner and vice verse, getting married or forming a family has to find an alternative. Therefore the visitation to a family home with the prospect of finding whether the lady in question is available to be taken as a partner for life.Now who would dare call at a home to perform such a duty?

  A group photograph as a finale to the visit that helped to bind the two families together. By September 2011 we would be making another visit to Pasir Putih for the wedding ceremony. Notice the trays of gifts given in return,

Understanding and prior detective works of course come to the fore.No one would just blindly make an uncalled for visit. Surely all have changed now. Recently I embarked on a similar task and mind you crossing the Banjaran Titi Wangsa and on to Pasir Putih in Kelantan to visit a family home for that very purpose; representing my brother- in-law. Of course, there has been prior discussion between the two families concerned. Yet we do not come alone or empty handed. It has all the rigmarole of traditions and religious implications still. The date, day and time  are set. We arrived as expected. Welcomed with traditions.

A spokesman on behalf of the family welcomed us. In turn, we thanked them and explained our 'intention' for the visit. We seek to know if the 'maiden' in the house, of course naming her less we may bark the wrong tree, is  'unattached'  simply said 'still single' and if so we will be thankful to know and hopefully proceed with our earnest intention. Of course all that are said in the most colorful language and condor. Before that mind you we have not come empty handed as said earlier. We  brought 'token' gifts in respect of our visit to the home. The 'bekas sirih' ((beetle nut tray / container) is offered first. Its acceptance meant that we may proceed. Graciously we handed too the rest of the gifts.It could be five or seven trays as token of goodwill and our sincere purpose. In modern lingo it may mean 'line clear' or 'ok' you may proceed.

The talk or discussion began in the most polite way of course. We would name the 'suitor' in question who of course has known the lady and both have agreed that their parents meet and discuss the whole arrangement. For that reason we were there at Pasir Putih. Given the nod, we proceeded by getting answers to the following questions.   

1. How much is the 'dowry' and 'mas kawin'? Other gift as required?
2. How many 'gift' trays would we receive in return on the wedding day?
3. Could we have a date for the wedding day on the bride's side?
4. Others relevant to the wedding arrangement.

The answers to the above questions would help in the ensuing arrangement and planning for the wedding day in question. On the bridegroom side he has to provide the items as requested on the actual wedding day. Likewise the number of gift trays expected would also determined the number the bridegroom should bring. For example if the answer was nine, then we would bring seven. The number would be in the odd figure and less than what we would receive back. As for the dowry, it seems to go with current demand. Maybe RM 7000 to RM 8000.00 . No surprise, if the  dowry and special gifts go beyond the unimaginable. When both parties have come to an understanding regarding  the requirements and arrangements the the date for the wedding day is then fixed. Of course it will normally be two special dates. One for the bride's side and  the other for the bridegroom's ,taking into consideration school holiday period, flooding and other circumstances. A brief ceremony followed with the solemnizing of the engagement when a ring is placed on the finger of the bride to be. Normally the bridegroom to be mother would do the honour. That done it is considered that the young man and girl are now engaged and await their wedding ceremony. In the meantime both have to attend classes in respect of marriage procedures and responsibilities and obtain the required certificates and clearance.

On our part, as forerunner to the wedding ceremonies and traditions we have completed the initial task of visitation and arranging for one would politely say as 'asking for the hand of a young lady for engagement and marriage to a young man invariably already known to each other. It may also happen otherwise where both may have not met or know each other. Then procedures and directions may take other alternatives. Still nothing to stop the adventures of the hearts.

That done, the entourage and the host  closed the discussion with thanks. A prayer was offered. Lunch or refreshment was served before the party took leave. A relationship has been linked and will grow in future years,

Ceremonies of such nature of course may vary from locality to locality and more so with standings of both parties concerned. While some may go for plain and simple others may call for all the traditions and color not minding the expenditure.

As for the spokesmen from both parties, they performed their roles in the best of traditions keeping alive religious, and ethical norms, successfully carrying a duty for the community and the families.   


NINA said...

It would be great if the whole proceedings (and future ones) are recorded on video for future reference.

kotastar said...

Thank you. Yes for the same reason I have noted the episode less we forget how things are done traditionally. With current development when things get done with high fashion and publicity, old traditions slipped away.Soon I am sure even the 'hantaran' and the right number of 'gifts' plus the approach etc will take a new direction. Back in the 1960's you never hear of Malay / Muslim wedding in hotels or halls. The house was the only venue. Not now. 'Khemah' in all their finery too plus the catering were unheard of.A wedding ceremony yester-years would even go into the night with traditional entertainment. yes it would be great to trace back how things were done before.