Happiness is me and you…

…and indeed, nothing beats the joy shared at a family event like a wedding.

One of my nieces got married recently and I had blogged about the Malay/Muslim ceremony and also the grand wedding banquet…and another one tied the knot over the weekend and this time, they had the traditional Melanau ceremony at the house the day before the church wedding and everything else.

Despite my Melanau roots on my maternal side of the family, I had never witnessed anything like it before. I remember my mum taking me along to a pengilan (Malay/Melanau wedding) but most of the time, it would just be to eat – or at least, that is about all that I can remember…though I do recall seeing some bersanding ceremonies including the arrival of the groom at the bride’s house, complete with a kompang band and all.

This part of the Melanau wedding ceremony called the surung berian (loosely translated as the presentation of gifts, if I’m not wrong) started off with the arrival of the representatives from the groom’s side at the bride’s house…


…all in their traditional Melanau outfits. This was prepared – the daun sireh (betel leaf) in the traditional “server”, the whole works…

Daun sireh

…but I did not see anybody helping himself to that. I’ve been told, however, that it is not really meant for the eating bit so much. Instead, it has a very special significance at such ceremonies. I saw that it was placed right in front of the three representatives from the bride’s family in front of the dais, in the middle and after those from the other side had arrived, the one in the middle moved it to one side to mark the beginning of the discussion/negotiation.

While waiting, we had these lovely kek lapis (layer cake) Sarawak and coconut cake to enjoy…


and soon, the entourage arrived. I did not see the groom with them so I asked and was told that the groom would not be coming. Oh? That was another thing that I did not know.Β The gifts were presented and there was a lengthy discussion over each of them including a sword/knife that looked like a brass antique one…


…followed by a golden ring in an antique plate…

Plate & ring

…and there was a lot of money too, probably the dowry…


I noticed that in line with the traditional practice, only the men were involved – none of the ladies came with the group from the groom’s side, not even the mother-in-law to be. If I’m not mistaken, this special Melanau ceremony is only accorded to royalty, those with Abang or Dayang (the equivalent to the English Lord & Lady) attached to their names. I must say that I found it all very interesting indeed and was glad to be privileged enough to witness one taking place.

Eventually, all was settled and everyone was treated to a very elaborate buffet lunch. There was so much food but I only took photographs of a few of them like this nangka muda masak lemak (young jackfruit cooked in coconut milk)…

Nangka muda masak lemak

…and this lovely acar nenas (pineapple pickle)…

Acar nenas

…which came across to me as something like the Indian chutney – I love their mango one!

I did not eat the salted ikan kembong

Ikan kembong masin

…though on ordinary days, I could just eat this alone with rice…and I would go for a second helping, that’s for sure.

The sambal for the ulam


…was superb but I also had a bit of that only. No, I wasn’t shy or on any kind of strict diet – as a matter of fact, I was pre-occupied with these lovelies…

Chee loi

I had not had them for a long time because those that I would usually see at the market were very small, not to mention expensive as well, and not worth the hassle and the time spent on getting the meat inside out to eat.

The dashing groom did show up later for photographs on the beautifully-decorated pelamin (dais) with his radiant bride…

Bride & groom

…and all the members of the family present that morning.

Stay tuned for more!

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

34 thoughts on “Happiness is me and you…”

  1. My sis wedding preparation seems like more stress than joy and happiness leh

    Wouldn’t that spoil everything? Best to keep it nice and simple, no need to be too fussy till the whole thing gets ruined, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

  2. Oh…never witness a melanau wedding before and I don’t think got chance to witness it here. Hmmmmmmmm..really lots of food but I like the ikan kembong.

    That’s salted fish, salted ikan kembong…but it’s nice too. I love it with sliced red chili and squeezed calamansi lime. With all the Malays there and you’ve never been to see a real traditional Malay wedding, no chance at all of you witnessing a Melanau one, that’s for sure.

  3. ooo, those lovelies … clams? snails? πŸ™‚

    Snails. They have a “manhole cover” like those balitongs. You would need something sharp like a pin or toothpick to get the insides out, remove the “cover” and eat the flesh. Very nice, sweet…not quite like the taste of balitongs – a class on its own.

  4. Congrats on the newly weds.. Ahhh so you went to another wedding luncheon.. Nice.. I was attracted to the kuih lapis.. I think I would finish all the kuih lapis, hehe.. I like the nangka masak lemak (in fact anything masak lemak) and that ikan kembong.. Can eat two plates of rice with these two dishes.. The last one looks like escargots, minus the creamy garlic sauce..

    Thanks. Not too sure how they cooked those snails, never asked my mum.

  5. That’s a very Christmassy template with snowflakes. Getting into the festive spirit. πŸ˜‰

    That’s the Christmas special from WordPress, I get it around this time every year.

  6. I’m eyeing on those colorful kek lapis *_*

    Lots of those here – just don’t buy those non-chilled ones, must be a lot of preservatives to prevent them from going bad.

  7. Congratulations to the newly wed couple.Never witness a Melanau wedding before. All the dishes looks appetising and guess everyone will have a few rounds. I prefer “chut chut” to the lovelies.

    Thanks. I’m fine with both – chut chut, can get easily at makan places outside, anytime. These – you cannot get unless you buy and cook your own.

  8. The last dish is my favorite dish, like the way you say I enjoy use the toothpick to “tick” out the meat inside the shell to eat, that’s the fun part!!

    Hah!!! I wish I had someone to do that for me and I could just eat! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

  9. yum yum siput…. Kekekeke… some geli to eat but not me.

    Congratulations to the happy couple

    Thanks. I super-duper like!!! But I did not dare to eat too much – scared of gout attack. They were feasting on barbecued/grilled sago worms in the kitchen with sago pellets – I did not know as I did not go in, all the ladies in there…saving the best for themselves. Hehehehehehe!!!!!!!

  10. what do you call those “lovelies” as? are they snail? =S

    Yes, they are snails – stuck to the floating logs in the river – in the old days, they had a platform built on floating logs…where they did their laundry, took their baths and everything…and they even had a toilet on it. These snails would easily be found on those logs. The Chinese call them “chee loi”, same as what they call balitongs but they’re quite different actually.

    1. whattttt under toilet?! >..<

      Floating toilets… No worries, everything that went down into the water would be washed away by the flowing waters. Wait till you get to eat the “sai (shit) seng” – so so so smooth, so so so lemak, so so so so nice – best fish in the world. But getting extinct, I think. Selling for at least RM30 a kg and so hard to find. No more floating toilets…so no food, so all gone, perhaps. Hehehehehehe!!!!!

      I know people who do not eat balitongs as they saw on one TV documentary what they ate – never touched that again! πŸ˜›

  11. I also never witness the whole process. Just went there makan most of the time. And thanks to you for showing us the unique Melanau wedding. Did you taste the daun sirih? I never did but heard it stains your teeth if eat too much.

    Congrats to the newlywed. I shall stay tune to your next post. ^^

    Thank you. I tried the sireh and the buah pinang before when my grandma was still alive – she had those at her kampung house. Did not like it – made me go high, head went spinning round and round. 😦 Thanks, the next post on the wedding would be two posts away, I think. Lots of things to blog about. Hehehehehehe!!!!!

  12. Interesting! Congrats to the newlywed couple!
    I always wonder, what is the difference between Melanau and Malay? I heard from somewhere Melanau is basically ethnic Malays who settled in Borneo?

    They’re one of the ethnic races here…like the Ibans and Bidayuhs. The traditional costume is more like the Bidayuhs, not the Ibans…or like the Kadazans in Sabah. Not too sure about their origin, will have to google that up. Their language is also very different from Malay but the Sibu dialect may be slightly similar to the local Malay dialect, some words – not those from the coastal towns of Dalat, Mukah, Matu, Oya….I am quite ok with the Sibu Kpg Nangka one but not quite with the rest. Thanks for your good wishes.

  13. Blessings on the newly wed couple. Thks for sharing this special wedding with us!

    Thanks. It’s my pleasure – I love weddings!

  14. So lovely, another happy occasion! Looks like their protocol is slightly different. What sambal is that? Looks different from what I am accustomed to.

    Yes, not what I am used to either, never seen it like this before. If I am not wrong, they pounded ikan bilis together with everything else that went into the dip. Very nice!

  15. This is the first time I read about this wedding tradition. I guess that we have similar traditions in the Muslim areas in Mindanao but I was not yet invited to witness them. I hope that my Muslim friend will invite me when she get married. πŸ™‚

    It’s interesting to get to know all these, our very own traditional culture. Young people these days would go for all those practices that people do in dunno what country, they think it is so much fun – I think it takes away the beauty and romance and solemnity of marriage. I would never allow that. Period.

  16. Very interesting and congrats to the beautiful couple.

    oh..I love that snail “chie loi”, love to drink the soup, very clear and nice. Ya, it getting smaller now, I did let my boys try once. They enjoy using the tooth picks to pick the meat out for me to eat! hahahha

    Thanks. Not sure how the Chinese cook it – maybe like the other type of chee loi, mostly. Have not seen them in soup. I like them a lot too! I hear there are farmed ones now that are very big but of course, they are very very expensive. 😦

  17. Lovely ceremony! πŸ™‚

    Thanks for the insight into Melanau culture! I was reading this just before dinner with you just now, was amazed by the elaborate rituals and everyone was dressed up to the nines. Very interesting look into a Melanau wedding, haven’t had the privilege to attend one yet.

    My first time too, despite having lived here most of the over 60 years of my life.

    1. Thanks for your kind words, thanks for taking the trouble to drop by and comment. That’s very nice of you. Glad you found it interesting. You too, have a great week!

    1. Glad you found it fascinating. So thankful that I got to witness this – the people took the trouble to bring it back to life again, our heritage. I did not know a thing about all this before, an eye-opener, indeed!

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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