Malay wedding in Kedah Hazman Bin Sabtu weds Zurul Affza Binti Mohd Yusoff
Mrs. Sabtu called me few weeks ago. If I was interested in attending the Malay wedding of her son Hazman. "You have a Chinese wedding page at your website, and an Indian wedding page too. But I can't find a Malay wedding on your site", she said. She was right. I simply had not been in the position to attend a wedding in the Malay tradition even though I already knew it would be a great experience.
Hazman Bin Sabtu and Zurul Affza Binti Mohd Yusoff, just married in the bride's parents house
You can leave your comments here. Mr. and Mrs. Sabtu (the parents) are the owners of my favorite hotel at Pulau Pangkor: the Nipah Bay Villa. The hotel is a family business. The Sabtu's children, now in their 20's, work too in the hotel and thus I knew them too. Mr. and Mrs. Sabtu's daughter had been married a few years ago and she has two children with a third coming. On the 21st August her son, Hazman Bin Sabtu would marry miss Zurul Affza Binti Mohd Yusoff.
The Malay wedding in Kedah
Mr. and Mrs. Sabtu invited me to come to Guar Chempedak in Kedah, north of Penang, so I would be able to experience the whole wedding, spread out over two days, one day at the bride's parents house and one day at the groom's parents house.
The R.R.C., rocket rice cooker
Guar Chempedak is small and the brides' parents house was to be found at the edge of the town with beautiful views over the south and eastern padifields and further away hills.
The day had started early for Hazman, Zurul Affza and both families with the official registration in the Mosque of Guar Chempedak. In the past this registration took place at home but since a few years many people choose to register at the Mosque. This registration ceremony had taken place at 8am and I had not been able to be there as I had to come by bus from Penang, still 65km south of Guar Chempedak. Without a car I was not able to be thereon time, unfortunately.
At the parents house everybody is waiting for the arrival of bride and groom and guests
By the time I arrived there had already arrived some guests. Some had been attending the ceremony in the morning and most of the people where family members. I was welcomed by the father of the family, who immediately showed us around and, as it is custom, asked us if I wanted to eat something.
Arrival at bride's parents house
I had expected this and had not taken any breakfast. And after the long bus journey I was hungry. However, the food was not yet ready. I went to the back of the house and had a sneak view in the kitchen were the women were busy preparing the vegetables. Two enormous pans were full of curry chicken and brown sauce achar (a kind of lime pickle). The smell was fantastic and my stomach responded immediately!
However, we had to wait for some time for the food and the entrance of the groom to the bride's parents house. In the meantime I spend my time in walking around, talking about the food preparation and having a sneak view in the living room where the throne for bride and groom stood. The throne has a special name in Malay: pelamin.
Outside the men had set up, what they called a rocket. It was a metal construction that housed several trays of glutinous rice in it. When the rice was ready, the men simply lifted the metal rocket and put the rice in bags, ready to be eaten. It's a very simple but incredibly handy construction.
Arrival of the bride and groom in procession
It was time to eat. As I have been in Malaysia for around 3 years by now, I have had some excellent food. However, I was expecting something special, as this was a wedding. This Malay wedding gave me even more: a curry chicken I had never had before, chicken leg and wings which were fantastic and the brown sauce achar was better then I ever had before too. One can argue if this was all, but I would not have wanted anything more. This was one of the very best meals I had in Malaysia.
Arrival of the couple at the parents hour
By the time I was finishing my meal, I heard a kind of reciting. What happened was that some of the men of the family, inside the house were reciting some versus from the Quran and, as I was told, mixed this with other lyrics which were partly modern of style. Unfortunately I couldn't understand it but from what people told me the recited text must have quite humorous.
By the time the singing had finished the groom was in the area. Quickly I went outside. The groom, with his family came on the path complete with musicians announcing his arrival. The groom was welcomed by the brides family, but he was not immediately taken in the house. The bride's family was teasing him, challenging him if he was good enough for their daughter/sister. It was of course a game and part of the tradition. After a good laugh the groom was brought in the house where the bride joined him.
The reciting stopped for a moment when the bride and groom entered the house. Welcoming prayers followed. The father of the bride prayed for blessings, happiness and prosperity for the young couple.
The blessing prayers with the happy couple sitting on the pelamin
After a while it was time to have for the happy couple to eat something. Together with the direct relatives they sat outside and had their lunch. It was probably their first quiet moment of the day.
Pentjak silat demonstration at the Malay wedding
More and more people showed up. For the afternoon the bride's family had organized a pentjak silat group to perform in front of the house. I had never seen a performance like this in the villages and I was pleasant surprised this part of the Malay culture was here so much alive. Young children and later the day older too performed the typical Malay martial arts and a kind of kick boxing. The bride and groom rewarded the group with gifts before leaving but that was much later.
The martial arts demonstration took a while. It was the end of the first day of this Malay wedding day.