Singapore is a multiracial country with the Malay community comprises of 13.2% est. the Indian with 9.2% est. and the Chinese inhabiting the largest part of Singapore with a population of 74.2% est. Being the case, there is a host of traditions observed during traditional weddings in Singapore. Most of these traditions come from the Chinese side since they have the majority of the population.
Some of the Chinese traditions observed includes;
- An Chuang also known as setting of the bed
It involves inviting a man considered to be prosperous in the community to assist in determining the positioning of the wedding couples’ bed. Afterwards a male child of a close relative is invited to roll on the bed, this is considered as a blessing to the couples’ fertility in the hope that they will conceive a son. Various types of beans and fruits may also be scattered on the bed like a good luck charm.
- Guo Da Li or Sending Gifts
Close relatives of the bride officially give their gifts to the couple to their future in-laws. The quantity of these gifts has been often in even numbers.
- Shang Tou or Hair Combing
Hair combing is done four times on the eve of the wedding by female relatives. This is done to both the groom and bride with each combing having its own meaning that is a continuous marriage, harmonious union until old age, a blessing of fertility and a wish of prosperity.
- Fetching the bride
The groom and his band of brothers (consisting of male friends and relatives) go to the bride’s house and fetch her. The bridesmaids may put the groom into a trial and the band of brothers helps the groom to overcome these challenges.
- Feng Cha or the Tea Ceremony
As a sign of respect, the couple pays homage to their ancestors with a prayer and then they offer a cup of tea to the parents of the groom followed by the elders and in return they get red packets filled with money as a sign of welcoming them into the family.
- The Banquet
Here are some photos of the wedding commemoration in Singapore;
This is the main ceremony thrown by the parents of both sides on the day of the wedding to commemorate the union.
San Chao Hui Men or the homecoming. The newlyweds visits the bride’s parents’ home with new gifts. This is done three days after the wedding.
For the Malay community and the Indians the traditions differ. For instance, the Malay community has the Merisikwhich, it is a process which involves a respected member of the groom’s side visiting the bride’s family to learn more about the breed. This process is then followed by the akad nikah which is a process conducted on the eve of the wedding in the brides home or the mosque where a Kadhi reads verses from the Quran and addresses the husband to be about his obligations to the wife. The Kadhi also solemnizes the wedding. This is usually follows the sealing of a contract with maskah win which can be offered either in cash or kind. A wedding ceremony, then follows and later a wedding reception.
These traditions are fading away due to modernization that has led the new generation to believe that there is no need to follow the outdated traditions. Some few people do follow the traditions due to various reasons like to honor a parent’s wishes or to honor the community. Mixed traditional ceremonies have also been on the rise due to mixed marriages between various communities in Singapore.