thought there were only two stages towards a wedding ie, engagement and then the wedding itself. That would generally be true for most mainstream religion including Islam. But after attending a family discussion on the matter - whose wedding we were talking about shall remain a secret until later - I was made aware of the fact that actually there are 4 stages towards a wedding according to the Muslim custom. Whether this is the requirement of the Muslim religion itself or merely a part of the local custom and moors (adat tempatan), I will leave it to the voice of Authority.
The fist stage is the the Adat Bertanya ( Making Inquiry) or Merisik ( seeking information) where the male suitor will send a team of close relatives to the girl he would like to marry, to find out if she was available and agreeable to a be his wife.This can be a very informal affair where the parents of both parties ( the boy's and the girl's) will meet each other for the first time at the girl's house to talk about the possibility. But it can also be a more serious affair where the boys' party will come with a proposal ring or Cincin Bertanya. When the latter is the case the Marriage Proposal Money ( Wang Hantaran Perkawinan) will also be dicussed and the date when the actual proposal will be made. The following pics show what can happen at the first stage.
A second stage is when the Cincin Bertanya ( Inquiry ring) after it had been seen and approved by the girl's relative, will be officiall accepted and the acceptance communicated to the boy's team of representatives. It will also be the occasion for more relatives of the girl and the boy to meet and get to know each other to celebrate the acceptance of the proposal and show the proposal ring around. Hence this ceremony is called Mengembang Cincin or Spreading the Good News that the proposal has been accepted. It is at this meeting that the third stage - the Engagement Ceremony - will be discussed in all its details including the details of the Hantaran (expected gifts in terms of money, clothes and jewelry for the bride- to- be)) and the mandatory payments Mas Kahwin as imposed by Islam.
The third stage is the Engagement Ceremony or Pertunangan. This is a real big do as is almost as big though never as grand as the Wedding itself.
Often the second stage is combined with this one. The boy's party will come to the bride-to-be's house with a big retinue of relatives and friends bearing gifts and a new Cincin Pertunangan, different from the Cincin Bertanya. The gifts may cpmprise of 5, 7, 9 11 or 13 beautifully decorated baskets of various shapes and forms containing a set of clothing and other wears such as a watch, cufflinks, a pair of shoes a cap etc together with fruits and other delicacies. The number of baskets brought by the boy's party must be in an odd number and this matters very much for the bride-to-be must reciprocate the gifts exceeding them by 2. Hence 5 must be reciprocated with 7, 7 with 9 and so on. So, an overzealous groom-to-be can cause quite a strain on the budget of the bride-to-be. The Pertunangan or Engagement ceremony includes a full scale feast for the relatives of both parties and friends, including neighbors and the local Jemaah ie, all who prayed at the nearest mosque or madrasah where the bride-to-be's parent normally goes to pray. It's a big do indeed.
Finally, we arrive at the Wedding stage or the Installation of the One-Day King and Queen. That we have seen so often where both the families will go all out to celebrate the nuptial of their beloved son and daughter. No expenses will be spared to give them the best and most memorable celebration of their life. They may be celebrated in a trendy hotel or at the home of the bride, on a date that is different from another reception at the home of the groom. Modern cooperative arrangements and financial constraints often combine the two receptions and held at one go in a grand hotel, to attended by invitees from both the bride's and goom's families, relatives and friends.
So, marriage is no simple business when carried out according to the proper Custom (Adat) and Syariah requirements. For the invitees it's often a matter of attending the Bersanding and the Wedding feasts, a matter of a few hours. But for those involved in the arrangement - the parents, relatives and friends of the bride and groom, it's one hectic experience that can be very exhaustive physically, mentally and financially. Just imagine then what parents with many girls to be given away in marriage
must undergo. The parents of the boys might not have to worry that much for the receptions are often smaller in scale and the
groom-to-be usually help the family in a big way financially. The parents can easily turn to the boy and say, "If you don't have the money. don't think about marriage!" but they cannot do that to the girls. When some boys get interested in them, the parents must get ready for the wedding splurge at the request of the boy's family.