A traditional Malay wedding ceremony in Brunei Darussalam is generally an elaborate occasion. It consists of quite a few different functions spreading over a few days. One of them is the 'Majlis Berbedak' or if it was to be loosely translated would mean 'powdering function'.
Apart from the 'Akad Nikah' or the declaration to legally seal the marriage legal, the function of Berbedak is also considered to be quite a religious occasion during a Malay wedding function as it involves a zikir or religious hymn. The zikir is sung by a group of men or women specifically for the groom or bride respectively.
During this event, families from both sides of the bride and groom as well as invited guests will bless the bride or groom seated on the wedding stage or 'Pelaminan' with the 'Mencalit'. It is an action of daubing coloured powder which is readily placed in a bowl.
This occasion, which is usually held at night, also involves the sprinkling of potpourri on the palms of the newlyweds. The potpourri, made out of local plants called Pandan and placed on a bowl, is often added with local colourful flowers.
As part of the tradition, in this event, it is compulsory for the bride or the groom to be quite elaborately dressed in gold jewellery, bracelets, headdress as well as shackles. Obviously, the choice of dress colour is bright in line with the joyous occasion.
For brides, they would wear an elaborate and rather heavy headdress which consists of several adornments. Mainly made up of tiny decorations made of gold, the headdress comprises of 'Sisir Malur', 'Bunga Guyang Naga' and 'Bunga Malur'. The latter is literally Jasmine flower, while the Bunga Guyang Naga is a tiny decoration in the shape of a dragon, which exactly what the word 'Naga' means.
Hung from the neck is another adornment called 'Dinar', which is basically an oversized necklace. The front bit, hung down the chest, is adorned with colourful precious stones or gems.
Then there is the huge belt, worn both by the bride and groom. Usually around three or so inches thick, this belt is called Panding and often comes with an ellipse buckle.
The other common decoration is the sets of reasonably big bracelets called the 'Galang Geruncung'. Worn both on the left and right hand covering up nearly half the length of the forearm, the bracelets come in a set of seven securely tied to one another.
'Majlis berbedak' is usually held just a few days before the wedding day itself. The 'Mencalit' or the daubing of the coloured powder is usually started by the men led by the father or grandfather of the newlyweds, followed by the uncles, relatives and guests. As soon as this is done, it will then be followed by the woman who is led either by the mother or grandmother of the newlyweds, aunts, relatives as well as guests. All will be offered a gift.
On the other hand, the bride or groom is usually accompanied by an elderly woman working as a Pengangun. She is responsible for many things during the course of the wedding. On stage during the Berbedak night, she would make sure that the bride and groom are well dressed, rub the excess scented powder on their palms to name just a few.
Occasionally, mothers who have just given birth and their babies will join on stage to receive blessings and be sprinkled with scented potpourri by their families and guests.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin