Songket is a traditional Malay fabric that has been inherited from generation to generation. Known as Malaysia’s Cloth of Gold, Songket still remains famous as it is one of the most preferred fabrics for Malay Wedding Dresses. Intricately designed with gold thread, Songket portrays the look of high status and glamorous to the person wearing it. Because of its exclusiveness, Songket has always been a choice for variety of Malay occasions.
Therefore, because of its popular relation with the Malay Wedding, Songket is used as the Selphya’s web-theme-design and thus, this section is called the “SONGKET STORY”.
Wedding is considered as sacred ritual where two hearts and souls pledge to live together for life. Here, Songket Story will highlight on the processes and procedures regarding the customs and rituals involved in the Malay Wedding.
Malay Wedding is one of the distinctive and colourful occasions in the world as it has been performed over generation for ages according to its customs and tradition. There are several procedures pertaining to Malay wedding which are ought to be carried out such as merisik, meminang and akad nikah.
Merisik in English brings the meaning of investigation. Merisik or also known as Ta’aruf in Arabic is the first ceremony as the ice breaker for both families – the bride and the bridegroom’s family. It is the stage where a male family-bridegroom will send representatives to the female family in order to seek for information regarding the bride. To begin the ceremony, a spokesperson will begin with a pantun (poem) – mostly done by the elder people or the relative of the family from the bridegroom’s side. The ‘pantun’ may sound slightly like this:
Kami datang dari jauh, Ingin memetik bunga di taman,
Kalau hati sudah berkenan, Boleh lah kiranya dijadikan teman
The gist is ; “We come from far, to request for a rose, If there is a love, let there be marriage.” Next, the bride’s parents will ask the bride personally if she agrees to marry the man. However, in those days, if the bride does not respond to the question, that indicates the bride’s acceptance of the marriage proposal
Both families (the bride and bridegroom’s side) will arrange for the engagement. Date will be set for the engagement to take place. Basically, the man’s family / relatives / representatives will go to the bride’s house for the engagement. Nevertheless, according to the oldies, it is not so appropriate for the bridegroom to be at the bride’s house during the engagement. Generally, during the engagement, the bridegroom’s side will bring ‘tepak sirih’/ the betel-leaf container, a ring and several gifts (known as hantaran) for the bride. The groom’s representative (usually the groom’s mother) will hand a ring to the bride as a sign of blessed relationship.
In return, the man’s side will also receive certain presents from the lady’s family. Regularly, these gifts (hantaran) will include the ‘tepak sirih’, sweet foods like sugar and etc. At the same time during the engagement, both bride and groom’s sides will discuss several things regarding the wedding. The matters are like the wedding date, the ceremony and feast date, the amount of ‘duit belanja’ or dowry and the details of the gifts / hantaran. Both sides need to agree upon the decisions made and most importantly, the outcome of the discussion and agreement will not become a burden to either the bride or the groom. In fact, engagement is meant to make both families specifically the bride and the bridegroom to prepare all the things for the upcoming wedding as well as to get to know each other better.
Akad nikah is considered the most essential procedure in Malay wedding. Indeed, akad nikah solemnization needs to be performed according to the religion. Akad nikah is more like the formal contract of marriage. Certain particular vows need to be performed as required by the civil and Islamic regulation in order to legalize the wedding. The Akad nikah solemnization is when the bridegroom officially makes certain agreement / vows or seals the marriage contract with the ‘wali’ or the bride’s father.
Procedures of Akad Nikah
The bride’s father or the wali, the Imam and witnesses will be there during the Akad nikah ceremony. Usually, the Akad nikah ceremony will take place either in the mosque or at the bride’s house. It is undeniable that the bridegroom may sometimes feel nervous during the Akad nikah ceremony. During the Akad Nikah, the Kadhi will face the bridegroom and surrounded by the wali(usually bride’s father) and other witnesses. Then, the Kadhi will say the words of marriage / ‘akad’ to the bridegroom and shakes the bridegroom’s hand to indicate him to reply.
Generally, the Kadhi will say the ‘akad’ / words of marriage as followed:
I hereby marry you Adam bin Yusoff (bridegroom’s name) to Melor bt Kamal (bride’s name)
with mas kahwin/ mahar of RM 110.00 cash
Then, the bridegroom repies after the Kadhi shakes his hand.
I agree / accept / consent to marry (bride’s name) Melor bt Kamal
with mas kahwin / mahar RM 110.00 cash.
After that, the Kadhi will ask the witnesses(minimum two(2) person) whether the bridegroom’s vows can be accepted or should be redone. If the vows can be accepted, hence, officially the bridegroom and the bride are now considered as husband and wife. Then, the Kadhi will recite doa / prayers to wish for a harmony, joyful and happy marriage for the newly wedded couple. Next, the bridegroom will perform “Solat Sunat Syukur-two rakaat” to show his appreciation and gratitude to Allah as he has succeeded in becoming a husband and to ask for the blessings from the Almighty to accomplish a new life with his spouse.
After the prayer, then will be the “Membatal Wudhu’ Ceremony”. During this ceremony, the bridegroom will enclose the ring to the bride’s finger. The wedding ring is to be worn afterwards to show that ones are married. Later, the bride will kiss the bridegroom’s hand after putting on the wedding ring. This ceremony is conducted in order to indicate that the bridegroom can now touch the bride as they are legally married.
Walimatul Urus (Feast)
Usually, after the Akad Nikah, there will be feast to celebrate the newly married couple. The purpose of having this feast is to inform everyone that the couple is now officially married. During this feast, family members, relatives, neighbors and friends are invited. Regularly, the guests will be served with ‘Nasi Minyak’ / ‘Nasi Beriani’. Apart from that, they will also be given gifts like ‘bunga telur’, perfumes or sweets.
Kenduri ceremony is incomplete without three major ‘adat’ or customs– the hard and fast rules by our previous ancestors. The beginning of the ceremony which is ‘berlarak’ or small parade takes place by bridegroom family members and relatives. The sound of ‘kompang’ can be heard when the bridegroom and his families arrive at the bride’s place. This is to give a sign to the bride’s family that they are ready to meet with one another. Usually, both families have decided the theme colour for the wedding. For instance, the bridegroom’s family wears turquoise and the bride’s family wears maroon.
Next custom is ‘bersanding’. ‘Bersanding’ or also known as the “Raja Sehari’ is more like the mocking of the king and queen. This is the most waited moment for guests to witness the bridegroom and bride sit on the decorated dais / pelamin. Both bride and bridegroom are accompanied with the ‘pengapit’ (maid of honour) to please each of them. After the newlyweds have settled down on the ‘pelamin’, ‘Upacara Merenjis’ takes place. ‘Upacara merenjis’ begins by welcoming both parents of the bridegroom and bride to bless the couple by sprinkling scented / rose water, bunga rampai and yellow rice to them and thus followed by relatives from both sides.
Last but not least is ‘Makan Beradab’. This final custom is to complete one’s wedding ceremony. ‘Makan beradab’ is where the two love birds eat together with other family members at the long nicely decorated table. Special cuisines and beverages are prepared to celebrate and welcome happiness and joy.
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