May 19, 2009

A Foochow Home Style Engagement

(A group photo of the engagement party in front of my grandfather's house in Sungei Merah. Note the red cloth and the two nice houseplants which are popular even today.)

In the 1960's most Foochows would prefer to organise a homestyle engagement with elders in attendance. As many elders were called to witness this ceremony as possible. This was really to honour grandparents uncles and aunts.

The red cloth would be hung over the door way announcing a celebration or happy occasion. Joy was in the air. And every one would be busy running here and there getting things ready.

And interestingly the nervous fiance(if he could be nervous) would be introduced to the family if he had not been introduced before. Social questions would be asked (Heard that you are from Miri...which part?) and he would be looked up and down by scrutinising eyes which would examine every mole or scar! It was almost like a horse sale market (examining the teeth/ears/mane/and legs....) if I could use a metaphor. (Smile) And the poor guy had to be ever so diplomatic!

I can still remember several of my aunts and uncles were all excited about our new cousin who was very well educated (from the UK) and a new lawyer in Kuching (Sarawak). He thus became the first lawyer in the family to be followed by many others in subsequent years.

And definitely we were very proud of our pretty cousin who was the top of the pile of good girls from a good family. She deserved the best in the world. The doting father who was my second uncle was beaming from ear to ear and so were all the other relatives which also included the late CT Wong.

In this kind of occasion at that time the match maker would take a star role. If the couple had met without the help of a match maker than a match maker would be appointed by the elders. Because in those days it was not "seen" or "done" to be married without a match maker. If I am not mistaken the actual person who brought the happy couple together was our Fourth Uncle who was then working in Kuching at that time. So it was all thus considered very above board union with the greatest of blessings from the family.

An engagement like this might also be the first time that the two families get together and share a meal with all the happy activities surrounding them. And of course both sides would be rather uneasy if they did not know each other .

What's your memory of engagements of the past years?


Anonymous said...

That's a nice description of old style engagement. But mind you the same applies to new trendy engagements too....we Foochows never change lah.

Anonymous said...

I did not have an engagement but my father's house had the same red cloth when I came home with my bride from overseas. The whole family and extended family came to see the bride. We had about 6 tables at home. You see my mum was not well so we did everything at home under the house...I still like the stilted house.May build a modern one for myself one day. Your stories bring back so much memories. Thanks.

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