Checklist. Checklist. Caterers done. The wedding dress did. Flowers done. It looks like this, which is done within the time frame, but in reality, so many more still need to be done. Three of my children were married. After seven years, I’ll be doing it again for my last and youngest child. 2022 was a busy and exciting year for my family. Preparing for the engagement, solemnization, and wedding reception within a year is rather hectic. Ultimately, all we ever wanted was to see the occasions go on smoothly without any flaws, and our friends and families joined together in love and blessings for the newly married couple.
Today, Malay weddings are so advanced and modernized. From a very traditional concept, we have moved to a more modern and sometimes having a slight influence of western style weddings. Since Malaysia is a multi-racial country that consists of Malays, Chinese, Indians, Punjabi, and various ethnic groups, the diversity in culture is so incredible. Mixed marriages are prevalent in Malaysia. That is where we come to accept and understand one another.
Weddings in the 60s were incredible. There was a wedding I attended when I was a child. The bride was my sister Zam, and the groom was my cousin Din. To begin with, we had to prepare the wedding dress for the beautiful bride. We picked a long shiny brocade shawl from our grandma’s cupboard as her veil. Then we put together little crêpe paper flowers we pulled from the vase. We tied it to a piece of wire to make a crown. We then grabbed some colorful plastic flowers for her hand bouquet.
Furthermore, we found a suitable wedding dress by mixing and matching. It looked rather weird, but it was acceptable. As for the groom, he had ‘baju Melayu, an everyday attire for Malay men.
Before the big day arrived, we prepared the dais. A dais was a platform set up and decorated for the couple to sit on. Firstly, four pillars made of bamboo were set up. Then pieces of rusty zinc were put on the pillars as a roof. Then, we grabbed a few pieces of our mom’s batik sarong to tie from post to pillar as a barricade from strong wind. We took a couple of unused kerosene tins from my auntie’s kitchen for the dais. We covered the containers with rice gunny sacks. In the end, everything was ready with creativity and perfection. At least, that’s what we thought. We were brimming with pride.
They arrived at the awaited wedding day, and the beautiful couple was led into the dais hut. Due to minimal space, they were seated squeezed in, such a pitiful sight. Two cousins were fanning the couple vigorously with folded old newspapers. The weather was steaming hot. Everyone was soaked with sweat. Only three guests were allowed to enter. Meaning all together, only seven people could fit in the hut at one time. The other few were waiting patiently outside for their turn. We saw our other cousin Mat staring angrily at us under a tree. I am not sure what had come of him. He refused to help us to prepare for the wedding too. Could he have had a crush on the bride and got so angry that she married another cousin?
The laughter and joy heightened as the sun was directly on top of our heads. Suddenly, we felt some storm or tornado coming. The whole hut was shaking wildly. Those in the place panicked before we could save our lives, Kaboom! Within seconds, the entire area collapsed to the ground. At that moment, I saw a glimpse of Mat scampering for his life. We were left struggling with the debris. It is too hilarious. Don’t worry. Nobody was injured or hurt in the tragedy.
I was sure that the bride Zam my 8-year-old sister, her groom Din my 9-year-old cousin, Mat, my 5-year-old cousin a.k.a. wedding crasher, and the wedding guests (our neighbor’s children) would never forget this beautiful nostalgic moment for the rest of our lives.
In memory of my late sister Zam (1959-2021)
Author: Fatimah Aini, Malaysia