Thursday, December 3, 2009
My friends Alvin and Kitty were getting married. I was on the invitation list. Although the wedding took place recently, we had been asked to keep the date free since the end of last year and gently reminded about that date every now and then so that we don't forget. It was to be a dinner reception.
A few days before the date, Gerald (Alvin's brother) informed that the ceremonies will be taking place at the family residence in the morning of the day of the reception. I've never been to a Chinese wedding ceremony, so I decided to invite myself there.
When I mentioned that to another friend, he said, "It'll just be a matter of serving tea to each other. Nothing much to see."
Well, just tea or otherwise, I'd like to witness it for myself. My mistake, however, was not checking with Gerald or Jacy (Alvin's sister) on what time things start.
When I got there at about 9 in the morning, I was told that the groom and party had already left to 'kidnap' the bride and bring her back. (Now, I'll just have to wait for another of my friends to get married to check out what fun that will be.) They were expected back about 11 a.m. so I just made myself comfortable there and had a look around at the preparations.
An alter had been erected at the doorway to usher in the Deities to bless the occasion.
Sugar cane pieces, mandarin oranges, skewered pineapple pieces and Chinese dates - all having special significance - were on the alter, in addition to flowers, candles and joss-sticks.
A view of the alter from inside the house.
This alter, I was informed, is dedicated to the Guardian Deity of the house. Most Chinese houses had one of these, when I was growing up. Nowadays they seem more of a rarity.
Mr Wee (Alvin's father) was eagerly awaiting the arrival of his daughter-in-law.
This is the main alter in the house. Jacy informed me that the alter table is more than a hundred years old and an inheritance from her grandmother.
There were many Buddha figurines on the alter. I was told that the different postures of the Buddha signify different attributes. Mr Wee collects them as part of his religious obligations.
On both sides of the main alter are placed fruits, candles, tablets, tea and etc. honoring the Wee and Lim (Mrs Wee's side) ancestors.
Every thing placed on the alter has its own auspicious significance.
This alter is to honor Alvin's maternal grandmother.
I forgot to mention that the Wees' are Straits-born Chinese from Malacca, also called Babas. So these may not necessarily be reflective of the customs of all Chinese in Malaysia.
I found this interesting as this is the first time I'm seeing prayer books being used in a Chinese ceremony. In the neighborhood I grew up in, most of the Chinese claimed to be Buddhists, but prayers usually consisted of lighting candles and burning of joss-sticks and joss-paper. A priest was brought in for any major ceremonies like births, deaths or weddings.
As there was not much to do while waiting for the couple and entourage to arrive, so I decided to take some photos of the family and visitors.
If I had bought into that 'just serving tea' story, I'd have missed all of this.