January 31, 2009

"Will You Marry Me?"

It’s not quite that simple here!
To get engaged here is a big to-do. Not that it’s not in the states, it just takes more time and effort, with more people involved here than in the states.
We went to an engagement ceremony back in 2007 when Kakak’s younger brother got engaged. This time we were on the “girl’s” side and learned a bit more.

First. I (Sharon) got to use my crafty side and made a “hantaran.”
“Hantar” means “to send,” and when you add the suffix “an” to anything, it makes it a noun.
So a “Hantar+an” is “The Sent Stuff.” (we don’t have an English equivalent really). Hantaran are gifts that the bride and groom give one another at their engagement.

My language teacher is good at making hantaran and the like, and he helped me make a hantaran for my friend Rina’s engagement.
Usually hantaran is made by one person- kinda like a wedding coordinator/planner- so that they all match. I volunteered to make one for my friend and she agreed. So it didn’t match exactly, but it didn’t look too terrible in the end either. I made a chocolate tower of sorts, because the hantaran set needs to have something “sweet” included for your sweetheart.

Here’s me making the hantaran with our language teacher.
Day 1

Day 2 The finished product!
The Engagement Day
So here’s my friend’s living room with her professionally done hantaran with mine added (later another of her friends brought a pretty basket with some muffins too). She liked it and was glad I made it. All that stuff is for her fiancé-to-be. His family comes to her house and brings hantaran to give to her as well. But the engagement is more about the bride-to-be.
She was in the bedroom getting her make up done and getting dressed. Here the girl gets all dressed up (not quite like her wedding day, but pretty close). When her fiancé-to-be family shows up, she stays in the room.

Here’s his family arriving. Rina’s fiancé is (If I remember correctly) the 9th of 9 children! His parents are professionals at the engagement thing by now. (notice he gave her a full line of Clinique skin care products! Holla!)Both families crowd into the room. All the hantaran is placed together. Then the fathers discuss the bride price. That’s right! The bride’s family negotiates a price for the hand of their daughter…she’s valuable! I’ll have to clarify, but usually I think the bride gets to keep most of the money and usually she buys jewelry or other things like that to mark her wedding day. If you’ve ever read the parable of the “Lost Coin” in the book of Luke in the bible, the reason the woman was so freaked out that she lost her “coin” was because it was something she received on her wedding day. The jewelry a girl will buy is kind of like that I think (not coins, just special). It would be like an American woman losing a diamond out of her wedding ring. Sorry, that was a tangent.

After the price is agreed upon (which is actually really already known before the ceremony, but the formality makes it special) everyone quotes/sings a prayer (Muslim style). Then the girl comes out and sits as her mother-in-law-to-be puts a ring on her finger. (the bride’s dad inspects the ring during the “price” discussion).
After that the couple is engaged! Then everyone eats:)

Where is the groom-to-be during all this? He’s outside! Traditionally he’s not allowed in at all, but now when people start to eat, he’s allowed to eat and mingle with the guests. Here’s the happy couple. They’ll actually have a two-year engagement while she finishes law school! Whoa!
And just to make this post even longer. Here’s some pics with my friend and I and her younger sister.
If you’re wondering if the whole thing feels as special as a guy dropping to his knee and popping the question, the answer is (no pun intended) “Yes!” When I went to take the above picture with Rina, she looked at me all excited and squealed, “I’m ENGAGED!” just like any newly engaged girl would do in the states.


Sharon's Mama said...

That looks like so much fun!! Please tell her congratulations and that your mother is very excited for her!! She looked beautiful! I know her mother would have been so proud of her!!
However, I can feel the questions posing as comments surfacing!! Questions like... Why the right hand? Does she get a wedding ring too? (I don't think noticed wedding ring sets when I was there.) If no wedding ring, then does she quit wearing the engagement ring? Just how "pricey" is the jewelry that she can buy, or more directly just how much is a beautiful, intelligent, young woman worth? Is there a standard price? Whew!!!

SouthAsiaRocks said...

How fun! I love the chocolate tower!!
The money thing is so different here... the Bride's family has to pay the groom's family money just to take their daughter (and they really do take her - she has to go live with them and they make decisions for her)...

Looks like they are a fun match :) cool!

Roberts said...

Wow interesting post! I love that the bride gets paid and so is valued by her family. What a refreshing change from India, where many times the bride pays the groom and so is actually a liability to her family. The bride-to-be is beautiful! I love all the colors too.

Lori said...

Yep, your mom pretty much covered all my questions! :) Can't wait to get the answers!!