By Dr Pola Singh and Sarjit Kaur | EXPERIENCE | MALAYSIA |
21 September 2019. This day marked a symbolic beginning for my niece, Shareen Kaur Kuldip, who tied the knot to Alvin Raj Singh Gill after a courtship of eight years. Our family and friends witnessed a beautiful wedding unfold, embedded in vibrant and colourful Punjabi culture and traditions.
Our sister, Iswander Kaur, was well-prepared for this final wedding as she was ably assisted by the bride-to-be who assumed an active role looking into every detail and ensuring wedding preparations went on smoothly. Iswander’s two elder daughters and spouses also contributed actively, lending their own wedding experience.
As the wedding date neared, invitations to family members and close relatives were sent out personally. In keeping with the Sikh tradition, my sister and her husband, Kuldip tirelessly travelled to relatives and friends’ homes to deliver the invitations by hand.
A build-up of excitement grew among family members, as we counted down to the big day. Briefings were held at family gatherings to remind members on the programme flow and roles. Family members began practising and sharpening their dance steps for the wedding.
The day finally arrived in September. The first morning ceremony on Day 1 began with the maiyan (cleansing ceremony) whereby family and close relatives would massage the bride-to-be with oil, yoghurt and turmeric on her face, arms, hands and feet, believed to give her the glow on her special day.
The bride-to-be then fed single ladies with mitay chole (sweetened yellow rice) supposedly to pass some bridal charm, as it is believed that they will be next in line to tie the knot. This was followed by the mehendi (applying of henna) on her palms, hands and feet. Cultural norms believe that the darker the shade of her henna, the stronger the love and bond with her mother-in-law.
On the eve of wedding, the sangeet event commenced. It was a night of feast, music and dance. The pulsating beat of the dhol (Punjabi drum) filled the air and soon enough, everyone was tapping their feet. Invited guests from all cultures and background took to the dance floor, swaying to the rhythm of the bhangra music. Family members were giddy with joy and excitement as they participated in various ceremonies which included the choora involving maternal uncles putting wedding bangles on the bride by dipping them in milk first. Also the jaago which literally means wake-up, involves carrying of oil candles on a pot placed on one’s head. Centuries ago, when there was no electricity, this was the practice the night before in the village by relatives of the bride or groom, accompanied by folk singing and dancing as a form of open invitation to the wedding.
The bride’s colleagues and her netball squad wowed the audience with their sharp and energetic bhangra moves and colourful attires during the sangeet. They had diligently practised for the last two months for their dance performance. It was beautiful to see fellow Malaysians of various races coming together in unison in this dance and wedding.
On Day 2, the groom’s entourage from Port Dickson arrived in Malacca and was greeted by the bride’s family in a symbolic ceremony at the Malacca Gurdwara. Alvin was resplendent in his peach turban and matching sherwani and looked like a Maharaja.
Shareen looked elegant and regal in her fushia and peach lehenga suit. All eyes were on this stunning and radiant bride, as she walked the aisle leading to the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikh scripture) and bowed. The jovial priest was able to engage and make everyone present, feel at home by explaining the significance of the ceremony and making reference to our universal Creator.
The ceremony began with the Anand Karaj (Sikh wedding ceremony) with the main part involving reading and then singing of the Lavan (four hyms of Anand Karaj). When sung, the couple joined and held together by a piece of fushia cloth, circled the Guru Granth Sahib for their nuptial rounds. After the fourth round, it officially marked the union of the couple as man and wife.
As the couple completed the Lavan, there was a priceless look on the newly-weds’ faces as they acknowledged and honoured each other. It was a moving moment for the bride’s parents, as Shareen leaves her childhood nest and moves to a new family pasture.
Sweet ladoos were given to attendees at the gurdwara by Iswander’s elder sisters. The groom’s entourage, family and relatives of the bride then headed to a lunch reception at the hotel. After lunch, they returned to the bride’s house and the final event of the day was the doli ceremony marking the bride’s departure from her parents’ home.
It was another emotional point as my sister and the bride hugged each other tightly and tears flowed. Our relatives were equally moved as the occasion signified that my niece now has a new family base. Nonetheless, the bride’s parents also now have a beloved son and assurance that their daughter is in good hands.
Before the wedding car departed from the bride’s house, the bride’s mum poured bandung onto the tyres of the car to signify a delightful journey. The groom’s dad tossed coins in the air and around the vicinity, to wish the couple prosperity in their future life.
Shareen’s parents had full ownership of the wedding and my sister’s motherly touch made all the difference. I marvel at their dedication and perseverance. The execution of their plan with the support of their children, son-in-laws and family was clock-work and immaculate!
The auspicious occasion not only symbolised the start of a new life together for the newly-weds, it also nurtured a strong camaraderie among relatives of the Malacca bride and groom based in Port Dickson.
All 10 siblings of the Tara Singh family (including me & Sarjit) were there in full force to support and make the wedding a memorable occasion as we bonded, laughed and teared in the process.
The wedding remains a conversation piece within our family WhatsApp group, as we view pictures compiled by different members and read the wedding story board prepared by Shareen. Lovely memories remain etched in our minds. It has been two months and we are still intoxicated from the precious and magical moments. It was truly an unforgettable wedding.
Note: Sarjit is my youngest sibling – she assisted me greatly in writing this article. Thank you. Photo credits: Awesome Studios
A big Sikh wedding in Malaysia (Asia Samachar, 19 Oct 2019)
What goes down at a Malaysian Punjabi wedding (Asia Samachar, 14 Dec 2016)