From Borneo and Around

This blog is all about Borneo (and sometimes elswere) as I experience it. It's about places, people, fauna, food ... and anything I find pleasantly worth sharing in words and pictures.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Newlywed Nasruddin bin Rambli and Dayang Kahirunnisa binti Awang Khairudin

I remember reading somewhere that children are far more aware of their surroundings than we are; they seem to be gifted with a wide angle vision which we, adults have lost to the benefit of a narrower focus on things; we, as in “most of us”, have lost the ability to see the bigger picture developing around us without making a voluntary conscious effort.

Sunday morning, I dressed up and drove to a Malay Kampung (village) close to the bungalow of the former White Rajahs Brooke and now the official residence of the Governor of Sarawak, the Astana to attend a wedding. 

Finding the street, Lorong Petra Tiga, was quite easy; if you ever visit Malaysia and happen to notice the national and (at least in Sarawak) the State flag rising high at a street junction, I sincerely hope you will remember that there are the Malaysian way to indicate the direction to a wedding reception and that you too are invited. Indeed, Malaysian weddings, especially among the Malay and indigenous communities, with all the music and the DJ announcements, never fail to remind me of a happy funfair where the whole village (and often more than one) and, for that matter, any passer-by turns up to feast, dance, exchange the latest gossips and mostly marvel at the newlyweds. 

In the Malay tradition, the groom is expected to follow his new wife into her family’s home where the ceremony is often performed rather than at the local surau (small mosque). With a few large tents designed for outdoors receptions, the home roof of our friend Awang Khairudin Bin Awang Buang and his wife Salamah Binti Bushrah had been extended enough to accommodate a few hundreds of diners and keep them safe from enormous dark rain clouds which, thankfully, never kept their menace to down-pour upon the party.

The bride's parents Awang Khairudin Bin Awang Buang and Salamah Binti Bushrah

Welcome committee in red Baju Kurong
As far as weddings are concerned, Malays have become masters of organisation with the help of volunteers set up as a committee whose members have their names printed on the invitation card. Among them, the welcome delegates awaits guests at the arrival point and usher them to their seats at the banquet table. They all wear the same uniformed baju kurong (for the ladies) and baju Melayu (for the men) that match the theme colour of the day worn by the parents and family members (red for this occasion), while other “officials” can be recognised by the orchid flower pinned under their collar. In doubt with what you can or cannot do, or whom you would like to find in the crowd, ask one of them.               
A very kind and helpful "official"
Never too far away from the welcome committee is the Kumpulan Hadrah,  a  group of tambourine players, dressed in light blue baju Melayu with a kain songket (fabric woven with gold or silver threads) sarong worn around the waist and over the pants. They role is to follow the bride and groom on their way to their reserved seats set up on a stage decorated with rich drapes and flowers.  

Kumpulan Hadrah
Food is an important part of the celebration; there’s always curry, and rendang, beef and chicken, perhaps lamb and today a lime skin pickle that woke up all my taste buds at once and sent them begging for more; and of course there’s always some fruit and lots of very sweet cakes. The beauty of all this is that one never has to wait for even a minute to be served by one of the soldiers of the catering army.

One rinses one's fingers before eating with the right hand

Yummy lime-skin pickles prepared by the bride's mum

In front of the bridal stage, women and little children take turn to seat on the floor and enjoy the blessing ceremony of Tepung Tawar and now that just about everyone owns a mobile phone, close-up memories can be taken away and shared all over again.

To reach a good spot for me to take pictures of the newlyweds, I had to negotiate my way through a tight row of women whom, once they became aware of my presence and purpose showed much kindness. I prepared myself for the next stage of the ceremony where parents followed by relatives and friends, come to bless the groom and bride with rice, potpourri and oil and walk away with a special gift, a Bunga Telur (translated “egg flower”) which is in fact a hard-boiled egg held in a piece of veil to make it look like a flower; such a delicate way to remind us to cherish life, be grateful for our daily food and be thankful to be blessed with children.  

Bunga Telur
As I readied myself to focus again through the eye of my camera, I suddenly felt in full love with the moment, one of those Eckart Tolle’s “live in the NOW” moments, or more poetically a John Denver’s “you fill up my senses” moment, or was it an Oprah’s “Ah! Moment”? No matter, I had just become aware of the rather odd fact that I could actually feel and appreciate the whole happening of  the wedding party, around me as well as in and out of the room, and I wondered if this was the way I used to experience the world as a child, with a wide angle vision where every shape, colour and even sound spoke to me about what every single person had brought of themselves to this gathering while they remained totally unaware of their synchronising a moment of pure joy.

I love this shot

Dear Dayang Khairunnisa and Nasruddin, may you share love and happiness forever.

More picture.....
Men are reciting prayers inside the house
The newlyweds in prayer

A guest wearing baju Melayu
Prayer time
Teenaged wedding guests in baju Melayu

Honoring the elders

Friends arriving at the reception

Elegant couple with a swift gift to take back home

Dedicated bride's maid

Arrival of the bride and groom followed by the kumpulan hadrah

For such a big pot, I'd have to build an extension to my kitchen!

Resting on the groom's lap, a traditional kris

Mr. D.J

The bridal stage taken over: Life's like that!

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