Inter-racial marriages are on the rise, and with that cross-cultural wedding ceremonies and practices are gaining a foothold here in Singapore. This, on top of the advent of Globalisation, gives rise to the popularity of using Eastern traditional customs to spruce up a wedding with Western framework to create an experience that is both contemporary and unique.
Here is a brief list of just some of the Chinese rituals practised here.
1) “An Chuang”, the Setting of the Bed
Prior to the wedding, a man who is considered prosperous is usually called upon the help determine the placing of the marrying couples’ bed. After which, they invite the male child of a relative to roll and lie on the bed to bless the wedded couple with fertility and the hope of conceiving a son. Green beans, red beans, oranges, dates and various fruits may also be scattered on the bed for good luck.
2) “Guo Da Li”, Sending Formal Gifts
The direct family of the groom formally offer a set of gifts to the future in-laws. Often, the gifts include money, gold, dried or canned food. As a general rule of thumb, the quantity of the gifts should not come in odd numbers, being considered inauspicious. Sometimes, the brides’ family may return a portion of the gifts in reciprocation of courtesy.
3) “Shang Tou”, Hair-Combing
On the eve of the wedding the hair of the marrying couple has to be combed four times through, usually by a female relative. The first round of combing represents the continuity of marriage; the subsequent strokes represent a harmonious union till old age; the third brushing is a blessing of fertility; finally, the last, a wish for prosperity in a long-lasting marriage.
4) Fetching the Bride
Traditionally the groom and his “xiong di dui”, literally a ‘band of brothers’ consisting of male friends and relatives, will go over to the brides house to fetch her. At her house the bridesmaids may put the groom in a trial of games before letting him in. The groom’s ‘brothers’ often step in to assist the groom in completing the bridesmaids’ challenge.
5) “Feng Cha”, Tea Ceremony
The couple first pay homage to their ancestors with a prayer. As a gesture of respect, they then present cups of tea to the groom’s parents, followed by his elders starting with the most senior of them. In reciprocation, the marrying couple are offer red packets filled with money to welcome them into the family.
6) The Banquet
The parents of the marrying couple usually throw a wedding feast on the day of the wedding to celebrate and commemorate the union.
7) “San Chao Hui Men”, the Homecoming
Three days after the wedding ceremony it is customary for the newlyweds to pay the bride’s parent’s home a visit. With them, they would bring gifts for their parents.
Even with the rising popularity of fusion weddings, some couples may wish to do away with superstitious practices such as these. If you belong to this group of people, with parents who want otherwise, make sure you give your parents the due respect and at least let them have their say.