Thursday, December 17, 2009

Malay wedding


A Malay wedding is usually performed when either one or both spouses are Malay. Malaysian law defines a Malay person as a Muslim. The traditional wedding ceremony is in two parts. The first part is the akad nikah (marriage contract), which is the legal and religious part of the wedding. The second part is the bersanding (enthronement), which is a family celebration. It is usual for the two parts to be celebrated over two days. However, it is becoming common for there to be a gap between the parts of the wedding, during which the couple are legally married, but saving up for an elaborate bersanding. In cases where the couple have family spread around the world, a number of bersanding may be held in different countries to allow everyone to wish the couple well.

Akad Nikah

A Malay wedding proper begins with the akad nikah (marriage contract) ceremony. The groom signs the marriage contract and agrees to provide the bride with a mas kahwin (a dowry, literally 'marriage gold'). The contract signing is done before a religious official and is accompanied by prayer.

If the bersanding is to take place the next day, the couple's hands are dyed with henna during the berinai besar (great henna-ing) ceremony. The bride's hair is also trimmed, eyebrows shaped and make-up applied by a beautician, known as the mak andam. Then the bride puts on her tudung (hijab or headscarf) to cover their hair and a selendang, or embroidered and beaded shawl over that. A crown is also placed on top of the shawl. If the bersanding does not take place on the day following the nikah, these preparation customs are delayed until the bersanding.

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