Sunday, February 28, 2010

February Has Fled

Is February really over? Wow; that went fast.

Well, the sensation of speed might have to do with the fact that we were busy every weekend, with weddings to attend, a Chinese open house, and social visits for various other reasons. My employer also decided to take some of my weekend time with student activities.
Anyone working with young adults, newly graduated from university, will end up attending many weddings. In February, we were invited to six weddings, but only attended three.

Weddings are good for maintaining relationships, for those who are present colleagues, and also those who are former colleagues. As expats, we probably get more invitations than the average person (excepting politicians, who use them for press-the-flesh sessions) simply because an expat brings certain cachet, especially if able to converse in Malay. "Oh, you speak Malay so well," is a typical comment even after having only said, "How are you?"

My wife and I both love the Malay weddings for the beautiful and color-coordinated outfits worn by bride and groom. We also enjoy the family atmosphere: one can meet aunties, uncles, cousins, school mates, former colleagues, neighbors, and on and on. The food is usually quite good, with some serving my favorite: nasi briyani.

Wedding kenduris are quite easy to find, just follow this advice:
1. School vacations are when everybody gets married. Keep your June, September, December and late February/early March weekends available.
2. Kenduris are advertised with the use of bunga manga. These are plastic flowers of the streamer type, very reflective in sunlight and planted at key intersections leading up to the house where the kenduri is being hosted.
3. The road in front of the host house will be blocked by a large tent, and many parked cars. If you arrive late, you may even see a large procession moving towards the tent to the beat of a kumpang, a group of men or youth who play the Malay drum and sing wedding songs.

My former neighbor and I used to joke about eating our way across the Peninsula during the wedding season. One only needs to look out for bunga manga and then follow them to the houses. Once there, you eat. If someone asks you (usually they don't), if you are with the bride's or groom's party, you ask them the same question. After they answer (e.g., "With the bride's"), then you answer in the opposite (e.g., "We're with the groom's.") It may sound dodgy, but really I doubt that the people mind. Weddings are open to the entire kampung or neighborhood, and I seriously doubt that even strangers would get turned away. Such are the Malays with their culture of politeness.


  1. i think it's called bunga mangar.manga means "mango".i think so,not pretty sure,since i'm always away from kampung

  2. Yes, you are correct. I always heard 'manga' because I did not know the word 'manggar', but a colleague just confirmed that is the correct word. Thanks.