Saturday, August 23, 2008

Auntie Nyta is engaged!

We've been busy last Friday and Saturday, trying to finish whatever work that need to be done at the other house that we're supposed to move into. Been dropping in at the house on and off whenever time permits (having Friday as an only off day) for the past 4 months and still there are quite a few things left that need to be fixed as the contractor did a really terrible job. Anyway, we managed to attend Auntie Nyta's engagement ceremony on Saturday afternoon, though we missed the most important part, the discussion of the wedding between both families, from the future bride to be and the groom's. But here are some pictures.

One very grumpy boy who doesn't want to study for his exam which starts on Monday. The boys had a one week school holiday and it ended yesterday.

This was taken at the house we're moving into. We spent our first night there last Friday. This is the only part of the house which looks pretty descent at the moment.

Getting ready to go to Auntie Nyta's house in Sungai Petani, which is about 60km from our town.

Gifts or 'Hantaran' from both sides. The green theme gifts are from the future bridegroom, Kevin. Nyta's are in pink.

Here's Auntie Nyta, very pretty in pink.

The boys are still sleepy from their nap in the car.

Simple yummy lunch was served. And yes, we eat with our hands and only right hand is used. See the thing like a kettle with a base underneath, it's called a 'ketur' and inside the kettle thing is water for hand washing before eating and the base has holes where water from the hand wash goes into.

And this is how it is done.

I love this photo, colorful and candid, ... well almost. Seems like Kevin and Nyta are the only who look at the cam. Look, reflection of Farhan and Ezzat in the mirror!

With Uncle Kevin and Auntie Nyta. Congratulations!

Yati with Ezzat.

Now to me, this is an interesting item which we still retain in our Malay culture. The tradition of chewing betel nut (just disregard what the scientists say about its link to tooth decay and cancer etc for a moment considering there are around 10% of world population who chew it on regular basis). Nevertheless this is not an exclusive ritual/practice for the Malays as other ethnicities also have this in their culture, like the tribes in Borneo, the Indians. Even the Papua New Guinea people have this! Just ask Uncle Dan! I've always loved to see this in engagement and wedding ceremonies. I don't eat them but I find that traditional occasions are incomplete without them. For those of you who are interested to know more, read below.

This is a complete set of 'sireh' chewing accessories, the whole set is called a 'tepak sireh' or betel leave container. In general, tepak sirih contains six uniquely selected items: betel nut (areca palm nuts) that has been husked and split up in smalled pieces, limestone paste (kapur), extract from the leaves of gambier plant (gambir), betel leaves, and nutcracker (kacip). All of the items except kacip are kept in different smaller containers known as cembul (see pic). Sometimes herbs like star anise are added for some zest.

To eat it, the betel leave is placed on palm, and just take each of the ingredients in the cembul, place them on the leave, fold the leave neatly and put it inside the mouth and start to chew vigorously. The whole is chewed up to form a thick deep red paste between gums and cheeks where it stays for hours sometimes. Word of advice, do brush your teeth after that to avoid prolong stain. I only tried it once, and it was just the leave and the nut, without the other condiments and wasn't really a pleasant experience so I can't really explain why some people find it addictive even. I just know that it can create that 'high' feeling for a few minutes and to some degree, it appeases hunger and pain. Maybe we should ask Uncle Dan since he tried it a couple of time when he was in New Guinea.

There are precise sections of the tepak sirih that hold the ingredients. A complete set of tepak sirih reflects Malay life as a whole and the value placed by the Malay community upon traditional customs (adab) and codes of behaviors. To some, the folded leaves symbolize unity.

The tepak sirih with its elaborately carved is unique icon in Malay cultural history. The degree of elaborate designs and material used dictated the status in old Malay hierarchy.
In Malay tradition, the act of offering and receiving of tepak sirih complete with its ingredients has a substantial significance for both the giver as well as the receiver. Yet this is not all, for each of the elements that go into the making of the tepak sirih has its own symbolic value. The sirih leaf due to its characteristic behavior in its natural environment has been used as a symbol of respect for others. The lime (kapur) in its whiteness reflects the purity of the heart, a whiteness that conveys nobility and pure but which when disturbed or interfered can turn bitter like the tang of the kapur itself. The gambir symbolizes stoutness of heart while the betel nut, which comes from a tall and slender palm tree and whose flowers blossom in bunches represents noble descent or heritage as well as honesty and integrity. Ok I'm done. Next..
Ohhh here are some cute kitties! I love these, so fluffy! Unfortunately I'm allergic to cats or anything with fur. Have to stay away from these adorable creatures for most of the time :-(. But the boys were so thrilled to meet them.

With the bride-to-be, Auntie Nyta.

Look closely and you'll be able to see some scratches around Ezzat's nose. He rubbed his nose too hard the night before coz his nose was blocked. It looks worse in real life.

And Mr Emir here is having allergic reaction. So he's all itchy, especially his nose and this happened right after he played with the kittens. See the red watery eyes. Hmmm..guess someone has his mama's trait now.

At least this boy here is all happy and smiling!
Most guests have gone back. So we're just hanging around, taking some pictures before heading home as well.
On the way home on highway. This is what a padi field looks like after being harvested. Next process is to burn it before replanting. Padi is planted twice a year here.

Some parts of the padi field not yet harvested. View from side mirrow - Yati's taking pictures.