A MALAY WEDDING OF A BYGONE ERA

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MAJLIS PERKAHWINAN DI BUKIT RAYA, KEDAH, ERA 60AN.

Satu koleksi gambar yang agak menyeluruh yang menonjolkan pelbagai aspek majlis kenduri kahwin Melayu di masa lampau. Gambar diambil oleh Almarhum Abdul Rahim Bahauddin, bapa mentua saya. Semoga ia dapat mengimbau kembali kenangan manis pengunjung ke laman ini lebib-lebih lagi penduduk Bukit Raya sendiri yang terlibat dalam majlis itu, juga memberi sedikit gambaran kepada generasi seterusnya di kalangan anak-anak dan cucu-cucu mereka tentang satu tradisi yang semakin pupus di kalangan masyarakat Melayu.

A MALAY WEDDING IN BUKIT RAYA, KEDAH, IN THE 60’S.

These pictures of a Malay wedding in the northern state of Kedah were taken by my late father-in-law, Abdul Rahim Bahauddin in the 60’s, They give a good coverage of the main happenings during the Kenduri Kahwin, or wedding feast.

It was typical then to build a makeshift structure called a balai (hall) to accommodate guests to a kenduri kahwin (wedding feast). Made of the trunks of the Areca tree and the fronds of the Nipah palm, the hall was placed adjoining to the main part of the house, almost like an extension of it. Here male guests were welcomed and made to sit in a group of 4 people (female guests would make their way to the main house where they have their own feasting area). After the customary exchange of pleasantries with the host or his representative, food comprising of rice; fish, chicken, beef or mutton; vegetables and sweetened drink would be served in a metal tray. When the local Imam (religious leader) arrives with his entourage of makmum (followers), prayers and the reading of the Burdah (an ode of praise for Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him), Marhaban and Selawat (salutations upon the Prophet) would be conducted either in the balai or the main hall of the house.

Food were made from materials contributed by the community and the host and the actual cooking was entrusted to the more adept members of the kampung (village), all in good cheer. Big woks like those shown above were used and a fire place was made in the open using bricks as support and coconut husks as fuel. Young lads in their sampin (waist cloth) raised above their knees played mentara (waiters) carrying food from the kedohok (food distribution center) to the balai and the women section in the main house. Used plates and glasses were sent to the washing area where another team took charge. Under the the shade of the various trees that line the compound, workers would take their break and puff cigarettes. Those who have not had their meal would do so in the shade, often having the prized kerak nasi (the left over rice crust) for themselves.

The invitation to a kenduri would be extended to all members of the kampung. While the feasting itself would begin around noon, the workers would have started their day much earlier. Guests would come from all corners of the kampung, many by foot, others by bicycles, trishaws and cars. Children would be everywhere and making a lot of noise. One of the highlights of the day would be the arrival of the groom in style, in a costume befitting a Raja Sehari (a one day King) and almost invariably by car.

Even though it was not compulsory to have a Silat (Malay art of self defense) display during the wedding celebration of yore, it was more prevalent then than it is now. This touch of Malay culture is a precious reminder and link to an identity that has seen much accretion of modernity over the years and much of whose symbols are slowly but surely disappearing.

The culmination of the kenduri kahwin is the bersanding. It refers to the practice of having the bride and bridegroom sit side by side for the purpose of receiving blessings from family members and guests. For this purpose, a bridal couch called pelamin is constructed in the place where the event is being held or in the hall of the house. The bersanding ceremony customarily takes place in the afternoon but in those days it was also held in the early hours of the morning forcing many family members to stay up for the occasion.

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