Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Wedding Day in Malaysia: Part 2

THE CHINESE WEDDING TEA CEREMONY.

On last Sunday morning, my husband finally received our wedding (in Malaysia) photo soft copies from our wedding photographer, ZUST Photography. Thanks to ZUST team, now I can continue writing the next recap of my wedding day in Malaysia. Check the first recap of my wedding day in Malaysia here.

The very last part that I previously wrote for the recap of my wedding day in Malaysia was about the door games that my husband and his entourage had to go through when he picked me up at the rented wedding house (which acted as the bride's house). When my bridesmaids were busy throwing all of the challenges to the guys, I was busy dressing up, doing my hair and fixing my make-up.

My wedding dress for the morning wedding ceremony.

My Mom was helping me touching up the final make-up.

The bride was ready: Waiting to be picked up.

I was waiting in the room alone for about 30 minutes until the groom completed the whole challenges and picked me up. When the groom finally entered the room where I waited, he opened my veil and we took a little bit of photos with family and friends too during this session.


Meanwhile, since the groom's family gave us 9 cans of preserved pork legs (traditionally, a whole of roasted pork would be given) when he picked me up, my parents would have to prepare some dowry gifts that they had to present back to the groom's family. I can't exactly remember what was given to the groom's family then. All I could recall now; as part of the hamper, there were several types of cookies and two bottles of orange juice given to them.

The dowry gifts for the groom's family.

Next, we all went downstairs and were ready to make a move to the groom's house for tea ceremony with his family. On my way to ascend the wedding car, my Dad held a red umbrella over my head outside the house *good for UV protection too*. Symbolically, in Chinese wedding traditions, this red umbrella would protect the bride from evil spirits.


My Dad was protecting the bride by holding a red umbrella above her head.


Inside the wedding car.

Few minutes of driving later, we arrived at the groom's house where his family has waited. I think we were just in time in arriving at the groom's house, just as per the advice of the 'Smart Person' in the temple who chose our wedding date. All of our friends and bride's family also followed us to the groom's house. Apparently, all of the best-men' cars that came to the bride's house had to be filled fully with people when they went back to the groom's house. Hence, we split some bridesmaids and bride's family members to join all the best-men's cars to fill all the empty space.

The first thing we had to do before we entered the house was to pray (拜拜) to heaven and earth. There was an offering table prepared in front of his house's entrance door and we had to pray before them. However, since I am a Christian, I didn't really follow my husband when he prayed. I was just physically accompanying him during all the prayers. I was holding my flower bouquet instead of joss sticks. By the way, since my family from Indonesia also followed us to the groom's house, they had to wait inside the car first after the bride and groom finished praying. Only then, they all could come inside the house and witness the rests of the wedding ceremony as well.

Praying to Heaven and Earth.
Photo credit by SYH.

Another ritual after the prayers before going inside the house was stepping over the lit stove. Yes, the bride had to lift her long dress a little bit and step over the lit stove as it is believed to throw the evil influences out.

The bride's stepping the lit stove over.

Once we went inside the groom's house, it's not the tea ceremony time just yet. Both groom and bride, together with some friends and groom's family members, had to go straight to the bridal room and feed each other with red and white Tang Yuan or glutinous rice balls as a symbol of good luck and happy life together. Notice that we turned on a pair of lamps in the bridal room even during the day.

A bowl of Tang Yuan or glutinous rice balls for Chinese Wedding customs.

Then came the scariest part, we were supposed to invite a bunch of little children to jump, roll or do whatever they wanted on the bridal bed (no peeing or salivating, please), which was just covered with a brand new linen. I was totally not in the loop for this arrangement and kind of shocked when my husband and his brothers invited our nephews and nieces to jump on our bed after we ate the Tang Yuan. It was not easy to ask them to stop jumping after we purposely asked them to do it in the first place. I think we had to drag one kid out of the bed too. People say, little children invited to jump on the bridal bed are to bless the couple with fertility. Honestly, I was the first one to tell them that they have jumped on the bed enough and could leave the bed immediately. But my words quickly evaporated in the air. Kids...!

Kids happily jumping on our bed. I almost cried.

Once we were done with all the customs we needed to do in the bridal room (plus took some photos again), we went downstairs and started the Tea Ceremony (敬茶with the groom's elderly family members. This custom is actually similar to what we did in Indonesia during 敬酒 where the bride and groom served the tea to grandparents, parents, elder (married) siblings, uncles and aunts and married cousins to pay respect and give formal family introduction. 


Some differences here are: (1) Both bride and groom had to shout the formal titles of the family members quite loudly as part of the official introduction in the family during the Tea Ceremony. (2) In Malaysia, we used the real Chinese Tea for the Tea Ceremony, not red fanta or grape juice as in the one we commonly practice in Indonesia. (3) In Malaysia, before the wedding reception, we did the wedding Tea Ceremony at the groom's house. In Indonesia, we usually do it at the hotel or restaurant for the wedding reception before the wedding reception starts. One thing in common here is that during the wedding tea ceremony in Malaysia, the newlyweds still received the red packet (红包) stuffed with money or jewelry from the family members.


The Chinese Tea for Wedding Tea Ceremony.

Paying respect to elderly family members during Chinese Wedding Tea Ceremony.

My husband and I during the Tea Ceremony.

In addition, here's another thing that we don't practice in wedding tea ceremony in Indonesia: Giving red pockets (红包) to all the younger (unmarried) siblings, cousins and nephews/nieces. I remember we had to pack close to 100 red pockets for our wedding day. Usually, in Indonesia, the bride and groom only give red pockets (红包) to some cousins who help the newlyweds out during the wedding reception, i.e. becoming the guest receptionists, ushers, etc.

The newlyweds distributing red pockets (红包) to 
younger (unmarried) family members during the Tea Ceremony.

So that's all about the Chinese Wedding Ceremony in Malaysia. After we completed all the customs for the wedding ceremony, my husband sent me to the bridal house so I could change the wedding gown and do some make-up and hair-do touch ups for the lunch wedding reception.

Chinese wedding traditions in Malaysia are quite complex and rich in culture, don't you think? Especially, if we really follow every bit of them. We were really fortunate to be assisted by one of my husband's aunts from Singapore who understands most of the Chinese wedding customs and led us during our wedding ceremony both at the rented wedding house (bride's house) and the groom's house.

Wedding Reception in Malaysia - To be continued.

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