Traditional Malay Engagement




1. Engagement in traditional Malay culture is like making a deal. A family rep talks on a desire to ‘pluck a flower’ which literally means ‘take on a lady to be matched with a man’.

2. The male group will be headed by a father or an elderly man, in case the mother is a single parent. He briefs the host on the objective of the visit and thanks to the host for the reception. In some cases, when delivering the purpose of the visit, the elderly reps uses pantun and gurindam. These are traditional Malay oral verses, recited according to the fixed rhythm with similar ending sound.

3. The father of the groom in exchanging speech than would decide the dowry (hantaran) and mas kahwin. Real negotiation actually happens before the official ceremony. Once agreement on the dowry is sealed, no more negotiation allowed on the engagement day. Both parties are indeed, save from public humiliation.

4. Not uncommon, for ordinary folks, dowry depends very much on career, social and family status.

5. Both parties then decide on the wedding date. Interestingly, Malays when deciding on proposal rarely produce agreement letter. Unlike marriage, the certificate is not needed.  Engagement contract belongs to socio-religious plethora which requires total commitment to faith and deep-rooted cultural appreciation.

6. Exchange of gift traditionally involves flower arrangement made from betel leaves, cakes, candy, and hand-bouquet. The ceremony ends with some prayers (do’a).