modern wedding ceremonies which last only for a day or two, the traditional Peranakan
wedding is a twelve day affair which is usually carried out in the brides house. We
shall now investigate the series of elaborate ceremonies that take place to officiate the
The Cheo Thau ceremony is one of the most
important ceremonies and marks the first occasion when the bride and bridegroom will wear
their authentic wedding robes.
The actual wedding ceremony will
only take place before noon that day, after the Cheo Thau ceremony. This ceremony
is one of great fanfare where the groom heads a procession of seronnee (a musical
instrument), musicians, men carrying umbrellas, and lanterns. The whole troop will then
proceed to the brides residence after a series of rituals at his home.
Next, follows the Chin Pang Ceremony which
marks the first meeting between the couple where the bride would lead the groom into the
bridal chamber where he would unveil her. Together they would be served tea and a bowl of kueh
ee small white and red dumplings in a sweet broth.
Did you know, this symbolic act was believed to bless the newly
weds with sweetness in their marriage?
A Pak Chindek, and a Sang
Kek Um (the wedding masters and mistresses respectively) are most often required
because traditions become so complex that weddings need to be orchestrated by wedding
Did you know that even the position of the
feet during the 1st meal of the couple was thought to predict who could have
the upper-hand within the marriage.
The third ceremony takes place in the bridal
chamber. This is called chianh sia. This ceremony is amusing and unique because
friends and guests of the bridegroom would gather in the room and tease the bride with the
hope of inducing laughter from the bride. And if the bride does indeed break out into
uncontrollable fits of laughter, the unfortunate groom would have to treat all the guests
The finale of the wedding ceremony, would be the dua
belas hari or Twelfth Day ceremony, where the marriage would be conformed and approved
by proof of the brides virginity. Firstly, the brides parents would invite the
bridegrooms mother to inspect the bloodstain cloth. She would be invited to perform
a test by squeezing lime juice on the blood stain cloth in hope of ascertaining the
authencity of the stain. However, she would normally refrain from performing the test as
it would also demean the bride.
In todays fast-paced and modern society, it
is disheartening to see the lavish and elaborate Peranakan wedding fast vanishing. Few
young Peranakans these days are interested in going through the laborious twelve-day
wedding ceremony and very few older generation Peranakans can remember accurately the
complex procedure and rituals associated with it. Therefore, what we can do now is only to
preserve the unique bridal furniture and costumes as a remembrance of our roots.