Today (18/3/12), I attended my colleague Train Officer Rafi Uddin’s wedding lunch reception at Blk 525 Bedok North St 3. Together with some of my colleagues, we had lunch there.
Recently, there are many new younger colleagues in our midst. They joined us few years back. I expect more weddings coming up. I lost count on the number of weddings attended! Those weddings I attended 16 years ago when first joined SMRT, their children already grown up. Yes we are getting older with each wedding we attended.
There is a big difference between Malay and Chinese weddings. Last week, I went for a Chinese wedding in a hotel. It’s completely different from this.
Malay wedding is usually held at the HDB void deck. The cooking is also done there. Lots of decorations and setting up for the wedding reception and venue. Needless to say, there must be lots of painstaking planning for such a big function catering to hundreds of guests.
The visitors and well wishers started streaming in at night on the eve of the wedding. Food was already prepared and served to those who came on the eve of the wedding. Some of them may not be free on the actual day to attend so they came on the eve instead.
The invitation cards have already been distributed a month ago and notices put up on the three crew stations’ notice boards announcing the impending wedding. There was much anticipation in the air.
Due to shift work, my colleagues started planning to attend the event either before or after their shifts. The wedding reception started in the morning around 11am and lasted till late afternoon. Unlike the Chinese wedding dinner where there is time frame of commencing between 7.30pm to 8pm and end at about 10pm.
Whereas the Malay wedding is a whole day affair, invited guests could just saunter in as they like. There is also no seating arrangement. It’s free and easy. The spread of sumptuous food is laid out by the side, guests are at liberty to pick and choose what they would prefer. Drinks are free flow. Fruits are aplenty.
I notice that most of them brought their whole family with children in tow to the wedding reception. The live band – Hindi live band just like Bollywood fare in this case – is there to entertain guests with rendition of a variety of Hindi and Malay songs. It’s a pretty noisy affair with loud music blaring from those huge speakers.
Wow! So much delicious food with noisy music and singing in the background, it’s sure to create so much lively and joyous atmosphere.
I arrived at about 1.30 pm and I saw some of my colleagues seated at a table. I was invited to join them. I could see some of them coming in and also at the same time leaving in sequence one after another as they finished their meals. We enjoyed our meal with the live band playing in the background. Beautiful singers were happily crooning out a repertoire of songs.
Those who came much earlier started to make the move leaving me behind but not for long cuz another group from the “signals” maintenance staff just arrived and joined my table. I was the only Chinese there. Much later, another Chinese colleague Sgt Lee KB came to join me also.
Since most of my colleagues are aware of my blog, they requested that I blog this event.
The bride and bridegroom were not there. They were at the other side presumably the bride’s parents’ house. The bridegroom Rafi Uddin is rather short and chubby but handsome guy. I was told that his bride is also of the same mould. Both look similar in shape and size. They are also seasoned bikers. Each rides a motorbike! I hope they don’t race each other on the road! It’s better to relax on the bed. Safer and cosy lah!
Every Malay wedding there is that signature “kompang” being played. I really enjoy listening to its unique drum beats. The kompang heralds the arrival or departure of the wedding couple. It’s a pity that I missed that segment. It reminds me of my favorite Malay Singaporean singer M Nasir’s Mentera Semerah Padi where the traditional kompang is played with other musical instruments. The beats of the kompang is so soothingly intoxicating that it tinges your nerves and it’s interlocking rhythmic cadence with the accompanying chorus could lull one to Neverland!
After our meal, myself and Sgt Lee got to rush back to office to report for our afternoon shift duty. We look for Train Officer Rafi Uddin’s parents to present our token red packets before leaving. The parents were dressed in sky blue traditional Malay baju. Both were beaming with joy when two Chinese greeted them with handshakes. The father immediately gave us each a souvenir in return. Every Malay wedding, there will be a souvenir for guests.
It’s quite an interesting experience even though I have gone through many times. In terms of the setting, decorations and food it’s always a new different experience.
If given a choice, I would prefer such an informal wedding reception. We take our time to attend and enjoy the meticulously set up ambiance full of the kumpung spirit carnival enliven with much festive mood. No rush and no urgency. No stress. Simple and dignified with relatives and friends chipping in their efforts to make it a success. In other words combined efforts in the organization of such an important memorable event.
Could we say that it’s akin to those bygone days of “gotong-royong?” The Chinese nowadays certainly don’t have it anymore.
Lastly, we wish the newly minted couple everlasting happiness and much blessings. May they live happily ever after. Inshallah!