Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Majlis Bertunang

Last Saturday I drove down to Johor Baru with my wife and Rahil in tow. This was my first trip to Johor Baru but I would not have missed it for anything.

We were there for a very important event - Hardy and Zaza's engagement ceremony - two of our dearest friends. We were also looking forward to meeting Zaza's parents.

For those who not aware of Malay culture and customs, the Majlis Bertunang (engagement ceremony) is an elaborate affair seeped in tradition.

Traditionally, the man's relatives and close friends will usually go to the girl's house (without the guy) and a designated representative will ask for the hand of the girl on behalf of the guy's family.

On the girl's side, they will have their own representative, which will negotiate (I don't know whether this is the right word) with his counterpart on the guy's side.

They will take turns in speaking, usually using poetic and flowery language beginning with the introductions.

Not so common now, sometimes these representatives would spar verbally (in a friendly manner) with poetry (called Pantun in Malay).

This is not easy considering that you would have to immediately come up with a short Pantun, which has to make sense and has to rhyme as well. I guess, in the olden days if you wanted to get married, you would need a really witty person who was good with words to be your representative. I later learnt that the guy representing Zaza was really good with coming up with 'Pantun' but he decided to let us go with only one which he used in closing.

I find it interesting that a simple sentence like: "We have come to ask the hand of your daughter in marriage" would be worded as "we have come to pluck the beautiful flower from your garden" In Malay.

And if the family had more than one daughter, they would reply in Malay : "We have a few (in this case 2) flowers in our garden. Which one would you be referring to?"

This goes on for a while until they clarify which daughter the party is referring to, sometimes the ‘Hantaran’ (dowry) amount and date of marriage is fixed.

Another important part of the 'bertunang' ceremony are the gifts (on trays) which are exchanged between the two families. The girls' family will usually give 2 trays more than the guy's side. The gifts vary but there are 2 important gifts which are compulsary. One is the engagement ring and another is a tray holding folded sirih (betel) leaves, pinang (betel nut) and kapur (lime) placed together in a container called 'tepak sirih'. All of this is part of the Malay 'Adat' or tradition.

Anyway, coming back to Hardy's and Zaza's engagement, we were relieved that everything went OK. Even then, Hardy being the perfectionist he is, was a bit worried with some minor details. My advice: Don't worry! Now plan for the wedding.

Zaza, it was really nice finally meeting up with your parents. They are indeed wonderful people.

A memorable trip indeed.

8 comments:

Hardy said...

My friend, me and Zaza would like to thank you for making the trip, one long trip for you. Glad to have you there and glad to have shared it with you. Hope you had a wonderful time.

love2bug said...

still got pantun mehh?
i thought that tradition died a long time ago..
u should put up the pantun..
want to know how it goes.

Mama22Beas said...

Wow...I'm also surprised, still got pantun ya? maybe some parts still got, interesting and I hope it will never die. Mine just very simple and fast, straight-to-the-point kind of thing!

iqra said...

The pantun went like this:

Mat Gian Daun Selasih
Sekian Terima Kasih

lillian said...

Wow.. if this is the engagement.. what does the wedding look like ?!! I like the poetic part.. makes it more romantic I guess..

Zaza said...

Thank you so so much for coming down. You have no idea what it means to have our dearest friends around us on our special day. From the bottom of my heart, adam, ez and of course rahil, thank you so much. I feel really honourned that you wrote about our bertunang ceremony, so here's a pantun for you:
cari google dengan yahoo,
thank you!!!

All my love!!

Golf Addix said...

errr we tot of goin too , but then again the airfare was a bit not on our favour at the moment , if only it was a week late , we could have been there. nvr mind hopefully in dec , opps forgot , ita pulak baru bersalin , maybe u guys wanna honeymoon in miri , ahak....

Adam said...

Hardy, Zaza: Looking forward to the wedding.

love2bug, Mama22Beas: Its interesting. I hope that people would maintain this tradition.

lillian: We'll have to wait and see. Malay weddings are usually elaborate too. The nikah itself is quite simple but the reception after that is usually a big affair.

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