Following the invitation of our fellow colleague who also happened to be one of our good friend in our GPTW fun gang, we headed off to Ipoh last Saturday in 4 cars ferrying the troop of 16 of us to attend his engagement ceremony and also to take the opportunity of touring Ipoh town.
Although only half of the gang arrived earlier for the Ipoh tour, the rest of us made it to join them for a meal at Old Wong Bean Sprouts Chicken later in the evening.
Led by Jlo, our tour guide who hailed from the same state though from different town, we found our way to the Hindu temple which was located in Tambun.
To me, it was totally a new experience since this was the first time I attended an engagement party. I have attended an Indian wedding ceremony before; one of my Standard 1 and my favourite teacher of all time when I was very young:)
We almost lost our way there but finally we reached the temple after passing by a church, a mosque and even a Buddhist temple!! But undeniably, we did go on a mild goose chase following our guide!
We reached there at a good time; just right before the commencement of the ceremony:)
The view of the temple
At the main entrance of the hall next to the temple; the place where the engagement ceremony will be taking place.
The main temple
And this is our friend; Shiva the groom :)
He was definitely beaming and truly elated as he greeted us with such a welcoming smile upon our arrival:D
We were definitely the only group of Chinese and Malay at his engagement:D
There was a crowd which gathered at the main hall of the temple as well
Of course, we headed there to check out the commotion as well:)
I was fascinated by the sight of the glittering items greeting me as I approached the side of the concourse area at the temple.
It seemed that these items were gifts which will be presented to the bride and are offered by the groom as part of the engagement process prior to the wedding.
The engagement ceremony is one of the ceremonies to be held at least a few months preceding the wedding and during this time, the bride and groom will exchange gifts with each other.
It is still a common practice in the Indian community to seek arranged marriages; where the parents will still intervene in finding their life partner and deciding on the right person for their offsprings. The boy and girl will then be allowed to meet and if they like each other, the date of the engagement and wedding will then be set.
According to the Indian custom, there will be a few prevailing ceremonies prior to the wedding but the engagement ceremony will be viewed as the most important since it marks the initial point of the marriage.
Gifts from the groom can mount up to 51 items as the maximum.
These include gifts in the form of sweets, chocolates, garments, accessories or whichever items deemed appropriate by the groom to be presented to his future wife.
The gifts will be placed on trays which will then be carried by the groom's family to be blessed before the presentation to the bride.
The groom's family and relatives are now getting ready to proceed to the hall with the gifts.
Led by the sounds of the drums and also musical instruments,the troop from the groom's family formed the line of congregation who will slowly march towards the hall for the presentation of the gifts followed by the groom.
At the entrance of the hall
The groom's family presented the gifts and placed them on the stage centre where a holy man sat and chanted prayers over the gifts.
Towards the end of the prayers, the groom will make his way up to the stage to await the arrival of the bride; or his fiancee.
The bride appeared soon after; to receive the gift of the garments upon which she will return to the room again to change into the new garments given to her by her fiance.
She was a stunning beauty who had such beautiful and delicate features:)
During this time, as the bride left the stage to the changing room, there will be servings of the sweets and goodies from the groom's family to the guests as a token of appreciation for their attendance.
The first one was this Sweet; coated with peanuts and sugar...according to my friends, it was REALLY Sweet!:p
This was the sweet glutinous rice in brown sugar:)
How can they resist taking photo of themselves to steal some limelight from the focus of the night?:p
The bride; fully clothed in the new garments and also with garlands, descending from the stage.
The bride joined the procession from her family to head to the stage to join the groom again to acknowledge the gifts presented and also at the same time, for the exchanging of the gold rings.
After the exchanging of rings, the elders from both families will take turns to anoint them with their blessings. The married elders will then mark the pottu (dot) on their foreheads; the red ones to mark their union.
And we also took the opportunity to convey our heartiest congratulations to the new couple on their engagement...
But of course, since all of us were singles, we are not allowed to mark the dot on the couple's foreheads.
The gifts on the stage
After the ceremony, the guests were invited for the dinner banquet prepared by the hosts.
It was truly an eye-opener for me as I learnt much more about the Indian customs in marriages.
It seems that there are 16 ceremonies one must go through in their lifetime and marriage happens to be the 13th. In this important ceremony(engagement), the bride and her family will be taking charge of the logistics and also the arrangement of the entire ceremony. The groom will only be handling the gifts and presentation.
Therefore, it is no wonder that the crowd at the engagement ceremony was made up of more than 60% from the bride's relatives and family compared to the 20-30% from the groom.
However, the wedding ceremony would command an equal attendance from both sides.
An interesting knowledge gained which again, highlighted the colors of the multi-cultural society:)
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