A Jewellery Guide For Malay, Indian & Chinese Weddings
A Malay Wedding
Prior to solemnisation, the couple prepares for merisik which gathers their families in order to get to know one another and discuss plans for the engagement party and wedding. During this private custom, the future bride is given a ring from the mother-in-law as a gift and to signify that she is to be engaged.
Another important ring is gifted during the engagement and it features a more extravagant design than the merisik ring - think white gold set with white diamonds. The engagement is usually attended by families and close friends and carried out three months before the wedding ceremony.
For the akad nikah or solemnisation ceremony, there's quite a list of jewellery to prepare: the wedding ring, the batal air sembahyang ring and jewellery in the gift trays. The wedding ring is the grandest of them all, and is usually in yellow gold. However, this is not always the case today as white and rose gold are becoming popular.
Jewellery in gift trays or hantaran can be a set of necklaces, earrings and bangles to be given to the bride. In order to 'break the ice' as a married couple, the groom will gift another ring called the batal air sembahyang ring to the bride to mark the beginning of their new life as husband-and-wife.
An Indian Wedding
The Indian bride wears the most elaborate jewellery at her wedding, from the crowning maang tikka worn across parted hair to the payal anklet. Dangling and layered haar necklace is worn and paired with the mangalsutra neck chain which is usually in variations of black, white and red beads, and symbolises love.
Completing the bride's look is an intricate kamarband belt and bichiya toe rings. Traditionally, the jewellery pieces would be in yellow gold; however, modern brides opt for colourful and vibrant accessories to complement their wardrobe.
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A Chinese Wedding
There's a variety of wedding jewellery depending on Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka and Teochew customs. It ranges from the Nine Treasure Box, the Four Pieces of Gold, and the Dragon and Phoenix bangles. The Nine Treasure Box contains eight auspicious pieces of jewellery and the ninth in the collection is the box itself which is usually the colour of red and gold. The jewellery in the box are:
- A scale symbolising the beginning of marital bliss
- A mirror that represents harmony
- A Happiness Basket representing abundance
- A pair of scissors for wealth
- An abacus that represents the parents' hope for the couple's financial stability
- A pair of embroidered shoes symbolising fidelity and harmony
- A comb representing the cordial bond between husband and wife
- A ruler symbolising prosperity and successful careers
- Peanuts representing a prosperous and long life
See also: Wedding Of Mah Kok Wah And Angelyn Chong
According to Teochew and Hokkien customs, the Four Pieces of Gold are presented to the bride before the wedding and comprise a necklace, a bracelet, a ring and earrings. For Cantonese and Hakka families, the bride would receive the Dragon and Phoenix bangles during the tea ceremony to strengthen the relationship between the bride and her in-laws.
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