David is a friend of mine. I met him some months ago when I passed his house. David invited me to stay with the story he was a cyclist himself. And thus, I had time on myself, I joined him. David showed me his photos of his journeys over Malaysia and Thailand.
One day David called me with the announcement his son would be get married and I was invited. Since David is Indian, this was an excellent way to experience a Malaysian Indian wedding ceremony.
The whole wedding ceremony would take days. When I came to David's house, it was just before the bride would be collected. David lives in Parit Buntar, about 45 km from Penang. The bride had to be collected in Taiping, about 50 km the other way. A long row of cars went to Taiping. However, the groom was not allowed to join. The bride had to be collected by the father, David.
After arrival in Taiping at the house of the family of the bride the women brought all kinds of sweets and fruits inside. These sweets are carefully prepared and were put on the floor of the living room. A ceremony started with a priest who spoke to both fathers and the bride and some offerings where made.
Then all of the quests were offered some food. There wasn't too much time because the bride had to be taken away before 6pm and we arrived at about 4pm. 6pm was considered to be the best time and bring good luck to the future marriage. The bride would be taken to relatives in Parit Buntar since the marriage itself would happen the next day.
I slept that night in a hotel instead of in David's house. Later David told me it had to be like that because the ladies were busy with hair and make-up the whole night. In the morning David picked me up from the hotel and we went to the hall where the wedding would take place.
It could not have been taken place in the original hall since the roof has been blown off some weeks earlier. The replacement hall however was also big and enough. David told me that after the ceremony there would be a lunch. There were about 1200 people expected.
The ceremony started with the groom. Together with a friend they went through a series of rituals. Vegetables, fruits, oil and many other things were used. This part of the ceremony took some time. Then the Suresh left the stage, it was literally a stage, to make room for the bride who was now taken to the priest.
The bride went through the same ceremony. At last groom and bride came together at the stage where the final part of the ceremony took place.
And while all this happened, the lunch had started off. It was of course all great Indian food. People were waiting in long rows to collect their food. Once finished your lunch, you were expected to make space for the newcomers.
Inside the hall the ceremony was still going strong. There were two musicians hired. One was blowing a horn, the other played tabla. And it was very loud. How Suresh and his new wife could hear the priest was a little miracle.
After the ceremony it was time to congratulate the happy couple. Photos had to made and more photos were made. And it became that there wasn't even enough food for the guests. The had quite some more people showed up then expected.
It was time for a series of pictures with friends and relatives. For both families this was the first child to be married. And in that case it had to be a big celebration. And you can believe me, it was a big celebration. As I said, there were more then 1200 at the wedding itself. But at night the party at David's house continued.
Many of David and Suresh's friends who had not been able to attend the wedding showed up now. Most of these friends were Chinese. They couldn't be there because the wedding took place at the same moment as an important Chinese temple festival.
However, at night they were free and about 200 more people showed up to congratulate Suresh and his new wed wife. But if you think that was the end of the festivities, you're wrong. The brides family too had a party for the friends and relatives who couldn't attend the wedding itself. So the next day we moved to Taiping where Suresh and his bride gave us a warm welcome.
Again, like at the wedding and at David's house the food was excellent. It was this night to we could eat meat. The first days of the wedding procedures it is forbidden to eat meat for the bride and groom but after the wedding meat is back on the menu. At the bride's house we had excellent chicken and mutton together with a spicy salad, dahl and vegetables.
David now was dressed in western clothes while his wife was wearing another beautiful sari. I had stopped by that time counting how many saries she had changed but I still recognized how beautiful she looked. Here's a picture of Suresh and his wife with David's whole family.
I can only say this was to me a life experience I would not have wanted to miss. For all of you who have never experienced such an event, have a look at a selection of photos I made during the days of the wedding.
Peter van der Lans