Anything Under the Sun
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Wedding Bells are Ringing
Living in Singapore, I have had the opportunity to attend wedding ceremonies of different races and religions. It is very interesting to experience the differences in the many different race, religion and culture and realise that there are even subtle changes between the different dialects of the same race or religion.
Most of us are aware of the exchanging of rings in a Church wedding.
But do you know how the Indians, Chinese, Malays and Seeks celebrate their weddings and what customs are involved. As I have friends and relatives from these various cultures, I was able to witness at least one of their wedding ceremony.
An Indian Wedding
Many us of may not be aware that Indian weddings need not take place in a temple. Especially in Singapore, it is usually held in community centres or wedding halls. The outstanding feature about the Indian wedding is that a small pit of fire is constructed on the stage where the wedding couples will seat behind it. The priest will say chantings and pour some oil to let the fire burn slightly stronger. When my best friend, Patma, got married, I got to see first hand the wedding ceremony. I realised that there were slight variations from what I saw in the Tamil movies. In Indian weddings, the bride dresses in a gorges Saree which is usually in bright colours such as red, orange or yellow. She is also decked up in gold jewellery with flowers decorating her long hair. ( Have no fear, dear bride if you do not have the requisite loooong hair, just use long braided wigs). The bride will have beautiful henna decorations on her hand and legs. The couple will also adorn garlands on their necks.
As the priest recites chantings the groom will tie a Thali, which is a yellow string, around the bride's neck and tie 3 knots. Family and friends will throw flowers onto the couple to bless them. After which, the couple will walk around the fire pit 3 times. The couples will then kneel down before their parents and ask for their blessings.
Vegetarian food is served on banana leaf if the wedding takes place in a temple. Otherwise meat dishes or buffet meals would be served when the wedding takes place in a hall or community centre. My favourite part of the Indian wedding meal is the payasam, a sweet porridge served as dessert.
When my brother-in-law married a Chinese, I learned about the tea- ceremonies and the $888 gift packages to the bride. In a Chinese wedding, the groom will give a gift of gold jewelry and money. It is usually in the form of $88, $888, #8888, depending on how much was agreed upon. Did I mention that EIGHT is a very lucky number for the Chinese. (Since this year there will be 08/08/08, the number of Chinese wedding held for this year will probably be an all time high!)
I have also attended a couple of wedding receptions of my Chinese colleagues. The reception is generally held at a hotel and a 8 or 10 course dinner is served. The wedding couples are congratulated by family and friends and toasted with a very "long" YAM SENG.
I LOVE Malay weddings. Even when the wedding is held below an apartment block, the decorations are super. There will usually be a red carpet from the entrance to the stage where the wedding couple will be seated on the stage. The stage and the long tables will be beautifully decorated.
As with the Chinese wedding, the groom will usually give a monetary gift as well as many other personal products such as dress, watch, handbag,shoes, make-up set etc. Wonderfully delicious and beautifully decorated "Kuehs" and sweets will accompany these gifts. The striking feature about their gifts are their decorations, even the money is folded into beautiful shapes, such as a peacock etc. The bride will also give some likewise beautifully decorated personal gifts like shirt, watch, shoes etc. (of course no money, and much less gifts then the groom)
Each guest is generally given a small gift for attending the wedding. The Malay couples usually change into many different types of costumes such as different Malay dresses, wedding gowns, kimono, Saree , etc. and take lots of photos. Most couples prefer to have the costume photo session to be held before the wedding. However, they will have a few dress changes during the wedding day and take photos with family and friends who attend.
Kompang, a traditional Malay musical drum beat by a group of man is used to welcome the groom.
Unlike the Indian and Chines weddings, for the Malay wedding, the wedding feast is held at both the grooms and the brides residence. The groom will invite his set of family and friends for his wedding reception and likewise for the bride. Only close relative will attend the feast held by the other party.
Malay wedding feasts are really mouth watering. YUMMY! They have lots of hot and spicy meat and seafood dishes, lots of selection of vegetables and truly yummy selection of kuehs for desserts.
I once attended my Seek teacher's wedding held in a temple. All the women attending the wedding had to cover their head with a scarf once they entered the temple. There were songs sung by relatives and friends to congratulate and bless the wedding couples. Yes, vegetarian food only, as it was held in a temple. But it was the first time I sampled mock meat, which was really interesting as it tasted just like meat.
I am looking forward to the many wedding ceremonies to be held latter in the year. Less than a month left for my niece's wedding.
Well Congrats and Good Luck to all who are planning to get married soon.