A Malaysian Wedding

28 May

Used-car salesmen don’t have a good reputation. So you can imagine our hesitation when the Malaysian man who sold us his car invited us to his niece’s wedding because “it would be a good cultural experience.” A little shy, we dressed up on Saturday morning and took a slow drive through Port Dickson town, to his family’s village.

It was a little awkward when we first arrived because we stuck out like sore thumbs. I was just about the only woman without a muslin head scarf and, with Baden’s blonde hair, it was pretty obvious that we were not family. Fortunately, Zuriami (the car salesman) spotted us and welcomed us in. We were immediately taken to the buffet table, where a fair amount of effort went into handing us forks and spoons (since Malaysians eat with their hands, cutlery is not common) and we filled our plates with chicken curry, beef curry, vegetable curry, fried chicken, rice, fruit and chip-like things. We then joined a table of guests right at the entrance (front row seats.) People were so friendly and kept coming up to ask us where we were from, what we were doing in Malaysia or how we liked Malaysia. I was surprised that no one asked us how we knew the bride or groom (thankfully, since we didn’t.) I was also surprised at how many people knew (and had visited) South Africa. One man was a captain of a ship and had sailed to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Durban. The other man worked for the military and had bought weapons from South Africa.

Baden and I had arrived with a small gift: a glass jar, wrapped in brown paper. It looked rather sad sitting on the gift table amongst the big elegant boxes. Even our dress was rather bland in comparison with the bright coloured dress of the Indian and Malay women. Although their traditional wear is meant to be modest and not expose the woman’s beauty, the women were spectacular in their brilliant pinks and greens, silky purples and blues. It’s not common for families in Malaysia to be ‘mixed blood’ (their words, not mine!) but this family had Indians, Malays and Chinese (and maybe some Western if you count us!) We were told that about 1500 people had been invited to the wedding and that people would come and go throughout the day. Some people would leave before the bride and groom arrived. They came rather to pay respect to the parents.

At about 1.30 in the afternoon, the bride and groom arrived. The bride was inside the house and went out to welcome her husband and invite him into their home – he appeared in a valiant grey suit with a sword and head piece and they made a very attractive couple in their matching grey outfits. They sat on their thrones inside the house and people blessed them with sprinkles of what looked like grass.

After that was pudding time and we had cakes and banana bread and cakes and ice cream and cakes and banana bread. One Malay woman remarked that Malays could be a lot smaller, if they didn’t eat so many cakes. And then it became time to leave. There was no traditional wedding ceremony or late night dancing and drinking – in fact, there wasn’t any alcohol served at the wedding so there were no drunk uncles spitting all over the guests. When we left, we thanked everyone who had been friendly, and said goodbye to our used-car-salesman. He walked us to our car, shook our hands and said goodbye. His invite really had been genuine, with no ulterior motives – and that is something we aren’t quite used to!

Baden eating lunch

The Wedding Thrones

The Wedding Thrones

The Bride and Groom

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3 Responses to “A Malaysian Wedding”

  1. Tanya Hanekom May 28, 2013 at 6:52 am #

    how beautiful!

    Kind regards,

    Tanya Hanekom Audiologist AU0003310 Sandton Hearing & Balance Room G06, Ground floor, North block Sandton Medi-Clinic Cnr Peter Place & Main Road Bryanston (011) 463 4639 084 243 2740 hanekomtanya@gmail.com http://www.sandtonhearing.co.za http://www.facebook.com/sandtonhearing

  2. Calvin May 28, 2013 at 11:57 pm #

    Thanks Catherine, most interesting read.

  3. Ann Dowie June 1, 2013 at 7:11 pm #

    What a lovely story. Great photos.

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