Written by Amde sidik
I couldn’t remember when my last visit to a Kadayan’s wedding was; I meant a real authentic Kadayan’s style.
Today Kadayan’s wedding is no different than any other Malay ethnics’.
I am not wedding spectator fanatic; I have a kind of phobia when attending a wedding.
Normally I only appear for close relatives or friends. But when I was young my approach was quite different, partly by coincident that I was most of the time accompanying my grandmother for kenduri and weddings alike. Having no grandfather from the very early age I was the grandmother’s grandson so to speak.
Today, wedding to me is to do with two things in common; it’s about food and second, about present you would give them.
As for the food, kampong’s wedding makes no choice but eat meat and chicken, they all cooked with oil, and it’s meaty and oily.
As for the present, they don’t ask you but that’s a norm to bring cash or present.
In old Kadayan’s wedding ritual, presents were not heard of. There wasn’t formal invitation either. Whenever there was wedding the whole kampong was impliedly invited.
Here the images of Kadayan wedding which are loosely registered in my mind:
First there was a matching business going on. A Kadayan's boy like any other ethnics would look around for a girl whom he thinks matches his ideal for a life partner.
Kadayan didn’t practice an arranged marriage that I knew of, but one thing was common among Kadayan’s mothers. She would make statement either direct or indirect to her son or daughter.
Something like this “I would love to see my grandson or grand daughter I am now old and frail…” This is a signal that she wants her son or daughter to look for partner.
The affair triggered from the male, seldom from girl, I can’t remember any that started from girl.
The son then once identified the girl he fancied would tell his mother.
The mother told the father and chain reaction would take place within a short space of time.
The first step, the boy’s family would make an arrangement to meet the girl’s parent.
First there was a visit, which was done either at night time or daytime, depending on the proximity and logistic involved. They called mayisik –clearing the air or sensing the air.
Once responded positively from the girl’s family they then scheduled for another visit, this one was for detailing date and costs, normally the girl’s parent would put the price tag.
The dowry increased could be because of certain cultural norm had been in breached like, the younger sister marrying earlier than the older sister or she was the only daughter in the family that would put the price slightly higher than those with a few sisters.
One would notice here both parents of the boy and the girl were represented by the uncles and the aunts from both side not the father or mother alike.
Preparation for a wedding was a hectic affair for both sides. It took many days or even weeks’ preparations. It involved the whole kampong; family of both sides near and far were notified otherwise that would be construed as disrespect if any of the family were left out.
A few days before the actual wedding, a temporary hut was erected-called taatak. The purpose of this was to serve, as central processing unit. All activities like cooking, keeping and storing food and utensils, and things connected to wedding would be activated from here. Some time if the house was full, taatak was also used as reception area.
One night before the wedding day called its babadak night, that night both boy and the girl in their respective residents were cleansed? In modern way of saying is, the make up time where the make up experts were called, to make sure the both would look at their best by the next day.
The wedding day I would say is the parading day for the bride and groom or time for public viewing.
First the boy would be mandi-bathed (process was the same in both sexes) he or she had to go to nearest river; this was a normal bath except one had a few friends accompanying him or her some even behaved like a peeping tom- you were watched!
Once mandi was done, at night, time was reserved for powdering the entire body with rice powder, all fingers nails including toes were coated with inai* using henna leaf, this would take the whole night otherwise the colour which was red wouldn’t appear bright or wouldn’t last. Eyebrows were shaved, lips were coloured and hairs were done.
For boy was putting the colourful and glittering silver head gear, designed like bullhorn it’s looked so heavy to me.
The weather was normally hot and someone had to do the fanning in lieu of electricity fans.
For the bride and groom meals were taken only very lightly until the wedding day.
What a coincident! While writing this article, there was a Kadayan’s wedding documentary taking place in Malaysia RTM channel 2. Let me see first…….
I finished watching it; no it wasn’t like the one I described here. This wedding was done very much of modern style.
To continue, the groom went to the bride’s resident, walked on foot. The groom was the king of the day, escorted with rabana – Arabic’s version of singing group, family, friends and flowers with tall stamps brought in. Verities of food carried in the dulang another extra gift.
The groom’s group would circle three times at the outside, in front of the doorsteps, before entering the house by reading some Quranic verses.
“Assalammualaikom” –in Arabic, peace be upon you was the first opening remark or greetings to the bride’s family.
The bride representatives usually waited at the doorstep.
Once the salaam was answered, they proceeded to the bride’s house. Once in side there would be a kind of announcement, indicating that the groom had arrived and matters were left to the bride’s family.
There was this betel nuts chewing ritual, comprised of battle nut, betel leaf, and camphor. Don’t ask me why and what for.
The bride and groom would then be sitting on the chairs on the decorated stage. Later they walked about to great the audience but first they must greet the family.
The official signing of the bow had either taken place a day early or just before the parading taking place, but it must be done before the wedding.
Three days later its time for the boy to go back to his parent’s house accompanied by his wife.
Some stayed with male’s family for some time, while some with the female’ family. I don’t see any consistency here. Some even fly away soon after.