Malaysia has a rich cultural heritage with the Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures blended in a healthy manner. Malays are the native of Malaysia. Malaysians usually give a high importance to the cultures and also respects cultures of other communities and countries. The Malays being the natives of Malaysia constitute almost half of the Malaysian population. As per the constitution of Malaysia all the Malays are Muslims and hence Islam is the major religion here.
People tend to socialise within their own ethnic communities. These days some marry outside their community, but majority still stick to their own ethnic communities. Families are considered the centre of the social well-being.
The Malay way of greeting people are quite conservative, but slowly getting influenced by western culture. Both the women and men usually do shake hand only with their same sex, while a bow with a smile is the way to greet the opposite sex. Also they do not accept alcohol as gifts, since they do not drink.
Unlike the western culture, youths here, mingle more in public than in private. The Malay men usually choose a bride of his choice. He then forwards it to his mother, who in turn talks with his father regarding the same and enquires if the girl is already in a relation or is available. They then discuss the proposal with their close relatives and friends, who also helps them in finding the financial and cultural background of the girl’s family. If they get satisfied with the results, further proceeds to the girl’s family to know their likings. With their acceptance, the engagement preparation begins.
The Malay weddings usually have lots of traditional customs. The visit to both families by the other families with a formal proposal and acceptance is a traditional custom here.it is called as ‘syaraks’. The formal announcement of marriage takes place at the mosque. The headman of the place or community announces the wedding after the Friday prayers. Soon after that the families meet up to discuss about the wedding dates, arrangements, reception activities and all. Another traditional custom is the handing over of token of commitment named ‘Hantaran’. The groom sends the wedding ring along with the Hantaran. ‘Maher’ or the bride price is also handled to the bride’s family during the syaraks or along with the Hantaran.
The Malay Wedding
Malay weddings are a grand affair. The invitations to the weddings are done through invitations, also people attends the wedding even without invitations and helps in the marriage preparations. The wedding is formally called ‘Berinai Besar’. Bride clad in rich clothing occupies her place first, while men dressed up in high formal attire arrives at the bride’s house accompanied by his friends who sings and plays various instruments. The wedding begins with the groom staining the brides hand with cones of henna. Once he has done his part, he occupies his seat besides the bride, while others complete it for him. The duo is blessed with the spraying of scented water and sprinkling yellow colour rice. The guests hand over the gifts to the bride and the gifts are considered to be the brides alone. The gifts handed over usually symbolises fertility and are usually given as eggs or flowers. The marriage readings, announcement of the ‘Maher’ and the formal announcement of Husband and Wife along with religious speech are done by the ‘Imam’, the mosque priest.