Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stages towards a Wedding

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.


abdulhalimshah said...

Ya Akhi Norzah,
Fortunately or unfortunately I have only one daughter amongst four children. The youngest is the only one not yet hitched as he is still pursuing his study in medicine and most probably has a long way before he could save enough for marriage later on.
But as parents it is our duty to see that they marry in accordance to the Shari'ah and the most important is the A'kad Nikah to be performed by the Wali. What bothers me is the way our Malay society's treatment of the whole process. There is no harm for the well to do and possessing the means to carry out the wedding ritual as elaborate as they could, but it should not be at the expense of one's affordability. The bride's family should not feel compelled to match others who had splurged and lavished the celeberations like those of what we had seen on TV by celeberaties. This is to me a counter-productive trend in our society because as you said it could be a strain on the financial resources of the parties in question. We have heard how some have had to continue paying the money owed to lenders even after the first child of the wedded couple is born. This is unnecessary and unwise. I know it is easier said than done if I were to suggest that it should be made on a reasonable scale and not to be a burden to the parents as well as to the bridegroom and bride. From experience I managed not to go overboard and still achieve the most important objective, ie. to follow the Sunnah Nabi (PBU)and thus "menambahkan umat" hopefully with quality and piety.

norzah said...

With only a son left to settle down, your responsibility to the kids seems to be reaching its conclusion, Akhi.
But one can never tell when we have to come in to give a helping hand as and when required. I've no comment on those who spend a fortune on a wedding when the marriage really lasts. Often among the filmstars, before the bill is fully settled the marriage has broken.
Your daughter's wedding was a grand success and I hope to have your and your wife around when my turn comes to host a wedding reception. Salam.

abdulhalimshah said...

Akhi Norzah,
You are absolutely right. Whatever I can do to help for others in this respect, it is my privilege to do so. I am looking forward to your invitation and just let me know if I can be of help. Salam.

kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
The process can be that technical apparently. It is good to be aware of them. Many may take shortcuts as what we have seen happening now.
Traditions acceptable before are now considered taboo, against Islam, Hindu origins etc. The effect - the later generations are deprived of the richness of culture.
We need not be that liberal lest we lose our directions. But certainly if it is not sinful we need not do away nor discard them blindly eg 'the exchange of hantaran, bersanding, berinai' just to name a few.

norzah said...

True enough, Akhi Hank, many of the rich cultural aspects of the stages leading to the wedding reception have been discarded. People are taking short cuts but spending a fortune on the reception
which lasts only a few hours. I'm reminded of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, may not mean much as a ceremony but the Japanese observe the tradition like the monarchy itself.

Al-Manar said...

Do you realise that the stages towards a wedding are sadly being drastically changed? It starts with mutual agreement for a number of outings. After a while comes the detection of a third life! That spurs a very quick wedding. In serious cases there are no invitation cards sent out!
And I think you are not stricly correction in saying that our friend AHS's case is coming to an end with only one son left. It is that one SON that may result in a number of weddings, hence a number stages yet to come. I am sorry for being in a disagreeing mood this time.

norzah said...

That's perfectly all right, Pakcik. In sociology any description that tries to discern certain pattern or stages in the development of certain social phenomenon is called formulating "an ideal type" . It gives some general norms or standards around which realties and actual things may happen. Actual happenings seldom conforn to the norms.

The quick, emergency wedding that you described, certainly happens quite frequently nowadays. It's the result of couples making their own arrangement and stretching it too far until a third life is already conceived before their arrangement can be made official. In sociology we call it a deviation from the norms although in religion we call it maksiat.

As for the conclusion of parental responsibilities over the marriage of their sons and daughters, you're right, it doesn't stop will the last son or daughter. If the parents live long enough they might get an opportunity to attend the wedding of their grand children. But that's the responsibility of their parents. don't you think. Try to say too much and you'll called interfering. I stand to be corrected of course.

Thanks so much for putting some heat into the dicussion. Life can be quite dull without a debate. hehehe. Salam.

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