3 March 2013

The Wedding

I went to a wedding today. It was a Muslim celebration. The bride was Zahira Bte Zainal and the groom was Muhammad Adam Bin Zulkifli. They are Zahira and Adam. Both the bride and groom are Malays. Zahira is a work colleague of mine and she is also my friend. It was a very beautiful event as weddings are. There was much joy and happiness. I was the only Ang Mo at the wedding. 

An Ang Mo is what the Chinese Singaporeans call a  'white man'. I am generally the only white man at these events. I don't care at all about this. I don't give a hoot. I feel blessed and honored to be invited and I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the day.

Here is a picture of me with the bride and groom. I am the thorn between two roses:


I have been to a few of these Muslim wedding celebrations before. They are of course alcohol free and the food is spectacular. It is spicy but it is delicious and tasty. My mouth still feels as if it is on fire and my digestion system is in overdrive.

The Malay Islam weddings are multiple day events. They are drawn out and are full of ritual and ceremony. I was invited to the Tukar Pakaian. This is a feast for friends, family and special guests where both the bride and groom change into gorgeous traditional costumes throughout the afternoon. They wore bright blue and purple and yellow outfits. They looked spectacular.

They really did.

This was held today.

On Sunday.

Yesterday was the main event though. It was what is known as the marriage solemnization. In Malay this is called the Upacara akad nikah. It was conducted in a local mosque and was attended only by family. There are a number of readings taken from the Holy Quran and the ceremony is presided by a Kadhi. He is a marriage official performing a role similar to that undertaken by a Christian Priest or Vicar. He acts under Sharia Law.

The marriage contract that binds the union of the couple is known as the Akad Nikah. This is actually a verbal agreement - like a marriage vow - however it is sealed by a financial deal which is paid by the family of the bride to the family of the groom. This bond or dowry is called the Mas Kahwin. The marriage contract must be witnessed by three people who are independent of both families.

Interesting huh?

I find it fascinating.

At the Tukar Pakaian the bride and groom sit on two beautiful thrones in the midst of the crowd. These thrones are as ornately and beautifully decorated as the newlywed couple. The bride and groom are much photographed - all day long. I got my picture taken with them a number of times. They were wearing a couple of different outfits. I crouched down between them for these shots as they were sitting on their thrones. At various stages during the afternoon we in the crowd were encouraged to throw uncooked rice and rose petals at the newlyweds. I hurled handfuls of them with gay abandon. I showered them both. The rice and the rose petals symbolize fertility and prosperity.

I sat awhile and chatted to the father of the groom whose name is Mr. Zainal Bin Mohamed. Mr. Zainal is a delightful chap and I could tell that he was very happy and proud. He told me that he had two other daughters and a son as well and Zahira was the last of his brood to get married. He seemed quite relieved that they are all now married off. These weddings are big and tiring and expensive too and I think he is now looking forward to just being a grandpa.

When I left the wedding ceremony I was presented with a small gift by the mother of the bride. Her name is Wiwiet Diyanawatti. All guests were presented with a gift. This is traditional. These gifts are known as a bungu telur which translates to a "flower and egg". These are real eggs that have been hard boiled and are dyed with red coloring. They sit inside a plain glass cup which is filled with glutinous rice. The eggs symbolize fertility. They are a very explicit marital wish that the couple should bear many children.

I love weddings. They delight me and make me feel like singing. La La La La - La La - La.

I am sure that Zahira and Adam will bear many children and their offspring will be beautiful - be they sons or daughters. Their children will be as beautiful as their wedding day was.

I feel very lucky to have shared a moment of it with them.

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