Marriage & Customs

Many of my friends are married by now. Some of them even have already have kids. This month, perhaps because of the Hari Raya mood or the fact that holiday falls on festive seasons, I received lots of wedding invitations. Since Malays usually set wedding receptions on weekends (because it usually takes one whole day), I have more than two wedding invitations for every weekend of this month. Obviously, I won’t be able to attend most of them. Speaking of it, I’ve missed one today at Negeri Sembilan.

This wedding ‘season’ brought up some interesting stories to be told (and turned out to be a good idea for a blog entry too). Marriage, in Islamic perspective, completes half of a Muslim’s faith. It is a sunnah (good deed done by prophet Muhammad p.b.u.h. and followed by Muslims) and therefore considered to be a big part of a Muslim’s life. However, modern Muslim weddings can’t help not to be mixed with traditional culture and modern lifestyles.

Since most Malays are Muslims, we can observe the fact that there is a very thin line between what’s acquired by Islam and what’s traditionally in the local customs. For example, dowries and wedding receptions are Islamic requirements while ‘hantaran’ (gifts exchanged between the bride and the bridegroom) and food packed for guests are traditional customs and door gift is a modern addition to the wedding ceremony. Traditionally, the bridegroom is required to pay for ‘hantaran’ (including the ones from the bride side – weird huh?) and the wedding reception, but modern couples usually do this collaboratively.

Here is the interesting part of the story – two of my friends are getting married this month with two very different stories. My first friend, Farah (let’s use some names to keep them anonymous) is getting married to Faizal. Faizal runs his own business, so his fiancé assumes he has a lot of money. Farah’s parents, under the impression that they’re going to have a rich son-in-law, asked for a dowrie of RM 5,000 and ‘hantaran’ of RM 20,000. A friend advised Faizal to get things straight to his parents-in-law to-be. After all, he’s going to be in the family too. Better get facts straight from the beginning. Apparently, he almost gave up and he’s considering to break the engagement. He added that Farah does not understand him and he thought that he could change Farah but it will took him some years to do that. I almost yelled at him, “Then, why are you in this relationship for years (YEARS!) until now? Are you into her beauty that much it clouds your decision?” He reminds me of Stu from the movie, Hangover, who dumped his girlfriend, Melissa at the end of the movie. Irony…

Another friend of mine, Maya got married to Muluk yesterday (May they live happily till their last breath and even meet in heaven, ameen). Their case is totally a different story. They knew each other through their family a few months ago. Maya’s family didn’t ask for a specific amount from Muluk but he promised them RM 10,000. I knew this because Maya came to me to ask about unit trust investment. She told me there will be some amount left after the wedding. I was amazed. “How do you manage a wedding reception with less than RM 10,000?” She told me that she reuse some stuffs from her engagement ceremony, she only buy things she needs for ‘hantaran’ and plan ahead to make sure there’s leftover for investments.

Some people get into relationship because they are afraid to be alone, they are following the mainstreams – everybody else is in relationship, they think that makes them happy or they need to satisfy the need to belong to someone and having someone on their side. Some people get into relationship because of a higher purpose in life – the relationship serves them in achieving greater goals, the love that they felt for that someone strengthen their faith or that someone completes their life and compliments their lacks. Some people get married because it is a natural thing to do after you reach certain age or they are afraid of being alone when they get old. Some people get married because they want to live the ‘sunnah’ or they want to serve their other half.

I believe in love at first sight. But I also believe that if we have very strong principles of life and we set some criteria or limits, we would be very, very careful to every first sight we take. So, which group of relationship do we belong to?

Thanks, in advance, for your feedback.

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