9th April 2015: Royal solemnization ceremony.
In Bruneian cultural wedding ceremony, despite the complex events that comes before the solemnization ceremony, it is only during this event where the vows are made and the couple is officially declared as married according to the Islamic Law. A majority of the citizens of Brunei opt to hold the solemnization ceremony in their own homes, attended by families, close friends and relatives. However, as the number of invitees is usually big, some cannot afford to fit the large numbers of guests within the limited space of their home, and hence opt to perform the ceremony in a mosque instead.
The Royal solemnization ceremony was held at one of the landmarks of Brunei, the Omar Ali Saifuddein mosque, which is situated in the capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan. There are other larger and more beautiful mosques in Brunei named after the royal family and even the prince himself. However, this mosque was chosen for the ceremony perhaps because of the significant meaning that lies beneath its construction. For most Bruneians, it might not be the grandest mosque we have but it is the most historical as it is built by the former sultan, the late Sultan Omar Ali Saiffudein, who is also the grandfather of the groom (Prince Abdul Malik). Sultan Omar Ali Saiffudein was called the architect of Modern Brunei as not only did he supervise the construction of this mosque, but most importantly, he helped shape Brunei into the nation we are now, post-colonization. Perhaps, in remembrance of the late grandfather of the groom, out of the many beautiful mosque present in Brunei, the solemnization was done in this mosque instead.
The entrance of the groom into the ceremony was accompanied by 40 Snipit (Spears) carried by male youth, 2 ‘Royal Warriors’ (Hulubalang di Raja) held the customary regalia called Pemuras (a gun) and Karga (case to carry the bullets), while ‘Military nobility‘ (Hulubalang Askar) brought the Kalasak (Shield) and Kampilan (a long blade).
After entrance, the groom proceeds to sit on Kasur (a cushion) made from yellow cloth covering which is placed on the Namat, a mat decorated with Air Mulih (pattern of foliage and flora) pattern on its border. The cushion is placed in between 4 ceremonial candles (Dian). In muslim weddings, the solemnization is generally overseen by the Chief Qadi, who declares the vows legitimate as per the religious law. Before solemnization, there is a sermon read to the groom and soon afterwards, the groom will read his vows clearly and loudly, “Aku terima nikahnya (name of bride) dengan mas kahwin (Amount of dowry),” which literally means “I accept the solemnization with (name of bride) with the dowry of (amount of dowry).” This will be followed by reciting other vows and the signing of the solemnization form. The solemnization of Prince Abdul Malik with Dk Rabiatul ’Adawiyyah was attended by the King, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Princes, Royal families and government officials.
12th April 2015: Royal Wedding Reception ceremony (Majlis Bersanding Di Raja)
The Royal wedding reception marked the climax of the whole event. The Bride and Groom were officially presented as a married couple to the public for the first time. It is during this ceremony that the couple was dubbed as Raja Sehari (meaning the king and queen of the day) as they sat on the Pelamin (Wedding dais), where the guests could see them. Similar to common weddings, the bride wore a Bruneian traditional wedding dress made of Jongsarat (clothes hand-weaved with golden threads and other colours), whilst her crown, hands and neck are adorned with beautiful accessories. In comparison to other ceremonies in the Malay Wedding custom, the Bersanding ceremony also had a large number of invitees whereby friends, colleagues and even members of the villages, where both the Bride and the Groom lived, were invited. Hence most citizens of Brunei opt to hold the reception ceremonies in big halls which can accommodate thousands of invitees.
The Reception ceremony of Prince Abdul Malik and Dk Rabiatul ‘Adawiyyah was held in the Throne hall, Balai Singgahsana Indera Buana in the Nurul Iman Palace. Present during the ceremony were the King, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah and the queen, Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha; the prince and princesses, royal families and government officials and VIPS from other countries. The Bride and Groom did not enter the ceremony at the same time. The Bride was first ushered into the ceremony, accompanied by Dayang-Dayang (Female youths) carrying various Royal Regalias. As the bride took her seat in the dais, the groom entered the ceremony and accompanied by Awang-Awang (Male youths), Hulubalang Di raja (Warriors) and Hulubalang Askar (Military nobility) who were carrying ceremonial regalias. When the groom reached the wedding dais, the Sultan took the hands of the groom and placed it on the bride’s head which symbolized the blessings of the matrimony.
During the wedding reception ceremony, instead of being intrigued by the customs, the guests were focused on the Bride’s attire, shoes, makeup and the wedding dais. This, however, is very common in Bruneian weddings. Also, during the royal wedding ceremony, what took the most attention was the beautiful adornment of the bride, Dk Rabiatul Adawiyyah, who was wearing an intricately designed golden dress perfectly complemented by accessories covered with Diamonds and Emeralds, and carrying a diamond-encrusted bouquet. Furthermore, the shoes she wore became famous worldwide because of its Cinderella-like jewel encrusted heels with a conspicuous red soles.
The night after the wedding reception was the royal banquet where the Groom wore a ceremonial military attire, whilst the Bride was dressed with another equally beautiful wedding gown. As the wedding ceremony was coming to a close, the Bride was bestowed with the royal title “Her Royal Highness Pengiran Anak Isteri”. And thus the week long Royal wedding was concluded.
It is important to note that, in the common Malay wedding customs, giving monetary presents to the couple is not required. Only those who wish to give gratuity gift do so. Also, in the Brunei Malay wedding tradition, the guests are given door gifts as a token of appreciation for attending the wedding.
Thank you for reading J
By Nur Atiqah RADUAN, ASEAN Correspondent from Brunei Darussalam