There is a malay saying “biar mati anak, jangan mati adat” which basically emphasizes on the importance of custom towards the malay community. And there is nothing that screams malay custom more than a traditional Malay Wedding. From the pre-wedding rituals to the actual solemnization day itself, each and evert stage is calculated and prepared with care to ensure only the best for the pair of “Raja Sehari”
Malay weddings are usually done in a grand manner. Lavish, elaborate and goes on for days! If you are preparing for your own special day or planning to attend one of your close friends or family’s wedding, here is a step by step on everything that you need to know about a Malay wedding.
Merisik can be directly translated to 'spying' but in this context it is better fitted to be called “surveying” or “observing” of the bride-to-be. This act is usually carried out by the man's side of the family to find out more about the woman’s background, her prospects as well as her availability for marriage on behalf of the future groom. As it is forbidden in Islam for a man to propose a marriage to a woman who is already betrothed or is eventually to be married to another, merisik is the appropriate stage to avoid such incidences from happening.
However, this stage is slowly becoming less practiced by the current generation, unlike the past where men and women were rarely involved in a relationship before being married, the society nowadays is much more open and accepting of a premarital relationship.
After both parties have agreed to commit to one another, the proposal stage or meminang is done. This is when the date and time for the engagement is set and the exact amount for the duit hantaran or dowry tray-gifts is agreed upon.
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Majlis pertunangan or the engagement ceremony is usually done in a grand manner, albeit slightly more modest than the actual wedding. The bride-to-be’s family will prepare a feast for the groom’s family and relatives who come to their house bearing the set amount of trays of gift or better known as hantaran which will be exchanged with their own.
The main event for the engagement ceremony is when the mother or a female relative of the groom slips on a ring, also known as cincin belah rotan on the future bride’s ring finger as a sign of betrothal. A simple belah rotan ring, traditionally a plain gold band is the classic choice for an engagement ring for its simple design that can be worn for daily wear but also obvious enough as a statement that the young woman is already promised for marriage. These days there are various interesting designs for the modern belah rotan ring, depending on the preference.
After the solemnisation is done, usually a customary small ceremony called upacara batal air sembahyang will be held, where the groom will either put on a ring or bracelet on his new bride’s hand and kiss her forehead to invalidate their ablution as a symbol to their first step in a married life together.