Enjoying “authentic” and “immersive” experiences in travel attracts us all, but in practice this concept has become almost as elusive as the definition of luxury. So when I had the chance to attend a Malaysian wedding while visiting Kuala Lumpur, I jumped at the opportunity. This was sure to be authentic, immersive, and unquestionably local.
Once a potential groom reaches appropriate age in Malaysia (as in India), marriages are typically arranged between families. Engagement quickly follows introduction, and then elaborate planning for an incredibly festive wedding begins. And what a celebration! With hundreds of friends and family in tow, the groom’s entourage leads a procession to meet the bride. The parade continues with heavy drumming, dancers performing martial arts, and musicians playing court music. Eventually, the couple – treated as royalty for the day – arrives at a heavily decorated throne, where they display their hands painted in Henna. Guest are welcomed to bestow blessings on the couple by means of sprinkling scented water, tossing yellow rice, or saying special prayers. The festivities continue for hours and conclude with guests sharing a feast which has been in preparation for several days; the bride and groom feed each other as an integral part of this ceremony.
Though I abstained from the feast, sweated through my attire in the 95-degree tropical humidity, and didn’t understand a word of the exchanges, the euphoria was palpable and infectious. The language of love needs little translation.
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