Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Bridal Chamber

Wedding Ceremony
     Unlike modern wedding ceremonies which last only for a day or two, the traditional Peranakan wedding is a twelve day affair which is usually carried out in the bride’s house. We shall now investigate the series of elaborate ceremonies that take place to officiate the marriage.
     The Cheo Thau ceremony is one of the most important ceremonies and marks the first occasion when the bride and bridegroom will wear their authentic wedding robes.
      The actual wedding ceremony will only take place before noon that day, after the Cheo Thau ceremony. This ceremony is one of great fanfare where the groom heads a procession of seronnee (a musical instrument), musicians, men carrying umbrellas, and lanterns. The whole troop will then proceed to the bride’s residence after a series of rituals at his home.
     Next, follows the Chin Pang Ceremony which marks the first meeting between the couple where the bride would lead the groom into the bridal chamber where he would unveil her. Together they would be served tea and a bowl of kueh ee – small white and red dumplings in a sweet broth. 

1: Did you know, this symbolic act was believed to bless the newly weds with sweetness in their marriage?

 A Pak Chindek, and a Sang Kek Um (the wedding masters and mistresses respectively) are most often required because traditions become so complex that weddings need to be orchestrated by wedding specialists.
2: Did you know that even the position of the feet during the 1st meal of the couple was thought to predict who could have the upper-hand within the marriage.

 The third ceremony takes place in the bridal chamber. This is called chianh sia. This ceremony is amusing and unique because friends and guests of the bridegroom would gather in the room and tease the bride with the hope of inducing laughter from the bride. And if the bride does indeed break out into uncontrollable fits of laughter, the unfortunate groom would have to treat all the guests to dinner. 

     The finale of the wedding ceremony, would be the dua belas hari or Twelfth Day ceremony, where the marriage would be conformed and approved by proof of the bride’s virginity. Firstly, the bride’s parents would invite the bridegroom’s mother to inspect the bloodstain cloth. She would be invited to perform a test by squeezing lime juice on the blood stain cloth in hope of ascertaining the authencity of the stain. However, she would normally refrain from performing the test as it would also demean the bride.

     In today’s fast-paced and modern society, it is disheartening to see the lavish and elaborate Peranakan wedding fast vanishing. Few young Peranakans these days are interested in going through the laborious twelve-day wedding ceremony and very few older generation Peranakans can remember accurately the complex procedure and rituals associated with it. Therefore, what we can do now is only to preserve the unique bridal furniture and costumes as a remembrance of our roots.

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