Thursday October 7, 2010
A colourful wedding steeped in tradition
IT had all the trappings of a traditional Baba Nyonya wedding although it was just a demonstration.
The one-hour showcase was complete with traditional costumes, decorated bridal bed, tea ceremony, Nyonya dance and a joget session.
It was beautifully staged by Focal Concepts Sdn Bhd at the central atrium of Queensbay Mall in Penang as part of The Star’s Now & Forever – A Carnival of Love bridal event.
The Peranakan Bridal Showcase started off with the groom’s entourage, comprising five Babas, going on the stage with siah nah (dowry trays) containing jewellery,
a pair of dragon and phoenix candles (hong leng chek in Hokkien), wedding biscuits, rock sugar and charcoal.
The charcoal is to remind the bride to boil water to make tea for her parents-in-law and for them to wash their face in the morning while the rock sugar is to bless her with a sweet marriage.
Five Nyonyas then went on stage with their siah nah containing four pairs of slippers, hong leng chek, wedding biscuits and liquor to exchange dowries with the Babas.
The groom and umbrella man (best man) then led a troupe of sedan chair carriers, banner holders and musicians on a procession to fetch the bride at her ‘house’.
After consuming a birds nest drink, the groom passed his bride the flower ball and led her to take her seat on the sedan chair before the troupe left for his ‘house’.
During the unveiling ceremony, the bride unbuttoned the groom’s collar button to symbolically undress him while the groom untied her red waist sash that symbolises virginity.
The couple then sat on a bed under which the matron of ceremony placed a basket containing a cock and a hen.
According to traditional belief, if the cock comes out first, it signifies that the first born will be a boy, but if it is the hen that emerges, the first born will be a girl.
The spectators stretched their necks in anticipation. After much prompting and when the hen finally emerged, with feathers shedding, the crowd burst into laughter as the shy cock
remained crouched inside the basket.
Master ofceremony Michael Cheah, who is also Focal Concepts’ Baba Nyonya wedding consultant, said a typical Baba-Nyonya wedding used to last a whole month.
“However, the ceremony is cut short these days with only the key elements being practised, ” he said.
During the tea ceremony, Penang Tourism and Culture Committee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang, The Star’s regional manager (operations) Chung Chok Yin and his wife were invited
on stage as the ‘parents’ to symbolically launch the bridal event.
Also present were Japanese deputy consul-general Hiroko Matsuo and The Star’s regional editor (North) Choi Tuck Wo.
Law said Penang, with its affordable cost of living, was one of the best wedding destinations for local and foreign couples.
He said the heritage buildings within the George Town World Heritage Site provided unique backdrops for wedding photos, adding that the state’s beautiful beaches were also good for photo
shoots and a perfect place for wedding dinners.