The Malays have a lot of traditions. And one of it being wedding traditions. They are so many traditions, events whatsoever. Part of wedding tradition is the engagement tradition. Unlike the kneel-on-one-knee proposal, the Malay engagement is very much different. There’s a ceremony.
Now, let me clarify that I am not a fan of traditions. I couldn’t care less about the traditions if its nothing related to the requirements of Islam. In Islam, when the guy or the woman agrees when asked to be married, then they’re engaged. So, there are actually people who get engaged without knowing. You can dig more about this yourself.
So, what happens in Malay engagement ceremony? From what I’ve been told, it sounds like a very awkward ceremony, pardon me. The guy’s family and relatives come to the girl’s house where they will have representatives to talk on behalf of each other’s family. This will usually be the uncle or a family friend/ dad’s friend. They are then set the date, the hantaran and mahar. Hantaran is the amount of money for the guy to give to the girl’s family to support the wedding and mahar is the amount of money for the future bride to keep. Mahar is a requirement in Islam, while hantaran is just a tradition. Hantaran is usually at least RM5000 now. Back then, it used to be atleast RM1000. Mahar min is according to states and for Selangor, it’s RM300 which is not a burden at all for most people. Anyway, them talking about the amount of money is already awkward enough.
Then, the girl. The girl will sit at a corner, or a center or in a room where she’ll have a nicely decorated mini dais to sit on, alone obviously. And awkward. I’m not sure what’s the purpose of this but I think it’s pretty much related to the hantaran (gifts) for the engagement. As if we can’t put the gifts on a table. Maybe they want to emphasize that the girl is actually receiving/accepting the gifts? I don’t know. I understand it’s somekind of appreciation for the girl, but let’s face it. It’s not the guy’s side who’s doing the mini dais thing. And if they really want to show that they appreciate the gifts, the girl’s side is already giving back an extra two gifts. and there’s food and warm welcoming. It’s not that I’m a cheapskate but isn’t that already loud and clear? While I perfectly understand the girl wanting to look pretty and all, I don’t understand the girl’s overdressing to an extend it looks like it’s for solemnization. I mean, she’s a future bride for god’s sake not a bride!
Now, I’m not sure if it’s the tradition to have the mini dais thing but according to my mum, no. It’s just a tradition CURRENTLY. More like a trend I’d say. It’s redundant in my opinion. That dais is a symbol of celebration. And personally, there is nothing to celebrate about engagement. Engagement is just a mutual agreement written or not and at the end of the day, the fiancé and fianceé are still non-mahrams. As if the girl’s so desperate that everyone got tooo happy someone would actually marry her. haha.
There are a few concerns about celebrating engagement quite too much.
First, the pressure. When things, let say, just doesn’t work out and there’s mutual agreement to break the engagement, the humiliation can be quite daunting. Family is one thing. Then there’re relatives. Friends. Non-stop. The questions could go on for half a year. It’s like salt in wound, man. haha.
Second, when couples are engaged, celebrated in such way it’s afraid that they will go overboard with the boundaries. “Oh, that’s alright, we’re engaged” so they said. But in truth, they are still non-mahrams and there are absolutely no reason for them to act like wedded couples. Kinda like subconscious psychology thing.
In conclusion, as I am not at all against the simple engagement tradition, I find ridiculous redundancy in big engagement ceremony. The amount of people invited. Canopies. The girl’s overdressing, but the guy comes in casual shirt, then the mini dais, sometimes there are also doorgifts. Flowers, flowers, flowers. I don’t know people, already looking like wedding to me. And another indisputable fact; it’s a burden to the girl’s side to prepare for the engagement.
Pardon me if I’m sounding skeptical or like a slightly nicer version of Micheal Kors criticizing bad runway show. Please know that these are all my personal opinions. Then again, who am I? I respect those who think otherwise, still.
But whatever it is, let’s hope for the best. I’m getting engaged soon and doing the preparations. I’m excited and nervous actually 🙂 Excited, well, of course I am. Nervous because this is becoming so real and I’m not sure how things are going to be.
p.s, this is the first article-like entry on my thoughts about something ever since I deleted my past entries. hah. Wow. I’m amazed with myself. harharhar.