During my holiday in Malaysia, I had a chance to meet up with family and friends. Friends here means SGM members as well. These are members of our local area. SGM has grown tremendously since and there are many new groups and districts and chapters. Of course the members that I know are no longer practising in the same districts as previously. However, we still see each other when I am back in Malaysia.
This round we had the good fortune to be invited to the ‘wedding’ of Wendy and Ventzi. Wendy is the daughter of Jenny, our Women Division member/leader. This time Wendy and Ventzi decided to renew their vows in the presence of her family and friends. Wendy is a very active member of SGI-USA.
Jenny’s other children came home from overseas and surprised their mum as well. What a lovely surprise for the mum and dad.
Wendy and Ventzi renewed their vows the SGM way. As it was a small and cosy and function, family members and close friends including SGM members were invited. It is a tradition that when someone holds a wedding, friends and relatives chip in to help in the organising.
This time the Young Women Division did most of the organising. Creating the lovely ‘billboard’ announcing the event ( see featured image in the carousel). They organised the programme and helped in organising the food and refreshment for the guests.
The ceremony started with the couple renewing their vows and signing the ‘marriage certificate’. They then toast to each other. Then Aunty Agnes gave a speech about the significance of the marriage and that the two of them are now inseparable as the ‘ fish and the water which they swim’. ( a Nichiren Quote).
Then it was the time for both the bride and groom to say a few words. Ventzi was moved to tears by the warm welcome of the family and accepting for him as one of them. We were all moved, too.
The Tea Ceremony
Then there was the ‘Tea Ceremony’. The Tea Ceremony is the most important ceremony for the bride and groom. It is an occasion where the newly weds are introduced to each others’ families. Actually it is the most important event in any Chinese Wedding. I noticed this is also practiced in China, and Chinese all over the world.
In the Tea Ceremony, the groom will offer tea to his in-laws and the bride will offer tea to her in-laws.
The tea ceremony works this way:
In Chinese culture, age is very important. Then comes gender. In the tea ceremony, the groom offers tea to the in-laws starting with Wendy’s parents. I suppose Ventzi’s culture will have their own ceremony. In the ceremony Ventzi will be ‘taught’ how to address the elders. Ok, it s simple for Wendy’s parents – they are mum and dad. The complexity increases as we move on to uncles and aunties. The Chinese has specific names for uncles and aunties from the paternal side and a specific names for uncles and aunties from the maternal side. To make things even more complex, one can differentiate an uncle or aunty if he or she is younger or older that one’s parents. So that is why the tea ceremony is so important. Furthermore, there are specific names for uncles, grand uncles and great, great uncles!! Are you confused yet?
So Ventzi had a great time being introduced to the extended family and pronouncing their names and the prefixes to their names!!
The plus side is that when you offer tea, the recipient will have to give an ‘ang pow’ (or hong bao in Mandarin), which is a red packet containing money or gift. Red is an auspicious colour. So red colour is used in occasions like weddings, birthdays, and Chinese new year.
The ones who are younger than Wendy will be introduced to the groom.
So after the tea ceremony we all went and help ourselves to a big spread of buffet in the garden. It was full of typical Malaysian food. There was nasi lemak, curries, fried noodles, chicken nuggets, various types of ‘kuehs’ ( or local cakes). It was a good spread and we enjoyed ourselves.
Of course the best part was that we got together and spend time together. priceless..!