Checklist. Checklist. Caterers done. Wedding dress done. Flowers done. Looks like this and that is done within the time frame but in reality, so many more is far from 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 span of a year is rather hectic. At the end of the day all we ever wanted was to see the occasions went 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 wedding. Since Malaysia is a multi-racial country that consist of Malays, Chinese, Indians, Punjabis and various ethnic groups, the diversity in culture is so amazing. Mixed marriages are very common in Malaysia. That is where we come to a point of accepting and understanding one another.
I think weddings in the 60s were awesome. 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 a few crepe paper flowers we pulled from the vase. We tied it to a piece of wire to make a crown. We then grabbed some colourful plastic flowers for her hand bouquet. 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’ a common 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 top of the pillars as a roof. Then, we grabbed a few pieces of our mom’s batik sarong to tie from pillar 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 tins with rice gunny sacks. In the end, everything was ready in creativity and perfection. At least that’s what we thought. We were brimming with pride.
The awaited wedding day had arrived. The beautiful couple was led into the dais hut. Due to a very limited 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 3 guests were allowed to enter. Meaning all together only 7 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 standing under a tree staring angrily at us. 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?
As the sun was directly on top of our head, the laughter and joy heightened. Suddenly, we felt some sort of storm or tornado coming. The whole hut was shaking wildly. Those in the hut
panicked. Before we could save our lives, Keboom! Within seconds, the whole hut collapsed to the ground. At that moment I saw a glimpse of Mat scampering for his life. We were left struggling in 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 neighbour’s children) will 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