Traditional Malay Weddings – The Wedding Ceremony (Bersanding)

The Wedding Ceremony (Bersanding)

The actual wedding day is the Bersanding. This literally means the “sitting together of the bride and bridegroom on the bridal couch, which resembles a throne (Pelamin)”.

Two pelamins are required – one in the bride’s house and the other in the bridegroom’s.

As the Bersanding ceremony customarily takes place in the afternoon, the bridegroom entertains guests at his own house in the morning.

At the agreed time, he is escorted in a procession with a male music group (hadrah or kompang band) to his Bride’s house.

On arrival, he has to pay the “entrance fee” to the Bride’s family before he enters each door leading to the pelamin to take his place besides his bride.

An astakona, a multi-tiered pedestalled tray, is also placed in front of the pelamin. Each tier contains a mound of cooked yellow rice studded all over with red-dyed eggs. This tray will later be presented to the emak pengantin (a close friend or relative chosen to be the matron of honour for the marriage) as an act of appreciation for her help during the ceremonies.

The Groom then sits with the Bride on the pelamin and the relatives will sprinkle petals and rice (which symbolises fertility) on the couple.

After this, the couple returns to the Groom’s house in a procession. They are normally accompanied by the hadrah band, with men beating a rhythm on their timbrels and reading verses from the Koran.

The music proclaims their marriage to the world. At the Groom’s house, the Bersanding ceremony is repeated for the benefit of the Groom’s relatives. This is followed by feasting and merry-making, called the kenduri. The wedding celebrations come to an end when the bridal pair returns home to the Bride’s house to pay respects to her family.




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