Sunday, 26 September 2010

Culture Overload

I may be wrong but it seems to me that other than the occasional exchanges by Facebookers (where I live now), pantuns are used only at Malay wedding receptions. By that I mean they are not heard at Chinese or Indian or Punjabi or even Mamak/Mami weddings.  I mean, isn't that not a shame because even with this One-Malaysia and Bahasa Rasmi Kebangsaan jazzmatazz and all the public exams being in Malay, pantuns are never ever recited in speeches at non-Malay weddings.

I must admit I hadn't been invited to that many but on those occasions that I had and attended, I counted myself lucky to hear a cursory  "Salam Sejahtera"  and "Selamat Malam". How come that we can pepper English quotations and proverbs into everyday speak so seamlessly like pieces-a-cake, but not be able to use a little bit of  the official language at family functions and gatherings? 

Dari mana punai melayang
Dari sawah turun ke padi
Dari mana datangnya sayang
Dari mata turun ke hati

That's my pantun for this blog entry (in case I get accused of being the pot calling the kettle black).

As per the pantun above, it's saying that when the attraction has moved from the eyes to the heart, we get a situation called "love" (sayang). And if the stars and planets in the heavens above are aligned in the right constellation, the situation might end in a marriage between the love-struck pair, God-willing. In most cases  a marriage is preceded by an engagement ceremony where the wedding date is formally agreed upon, also the gifts and expenses.

Berapa tinggi pucuk pisang
Tinggi lagi asap api
Berapa tinggi Gunung Ledang
Tinggi lagi harap kami


The engagement period can be from a few months to as long as a year, but the shortest I have witnessed is ONE HOUR! This happened recently at a charming wedding ceremony I was invited to. The bride is still studying overseas and is on her summer break whilst the groom fresh out of university. Although it was just a formality prior to the actual wedding that took place a while later, it gave the MC of the day the opportunity to show off his amazing repertoire of engagement pantuns - which was why the engagement was one-hour long, come to think of it.


In fact both the engagement and the wedding ceremonies went flawlessly at the hands of this MC. A lawyer by profession, he undertook to represent both parties, the bride as well as the groom (at his job he probably is involved in  Property Sales and Purchase), reciting pantuns on behalf of one and then the other. Honestly neither party had to say anything at all save for the groom's spokesman stating their intention "niat kami dipertandakan dengan seutas cincin ini buat Cik Gegirl" for the engagement. As the cameras flashed while the groom's mother put the ring on Gegirl's finger, Mr MC went about his pantun recitations.

Daun selasih daun semulih
Pohon pinang jambatan mandi
Mari kita bertambat kasih
Kasih ku pinang mengikat janji

The Tok Kadi (religious officer) then arrived and proceeded with the Khutbah Nikah (Wedding Sermon) at the invitation of Mr MC. It wasn't a long one since the Kadi had another wedding to officiate, and to make matters go like clockwork, the groom got his lafaz nikah (verbal statement/pledge) right the first time. When the formalities were over and with bride and groom doing and re-doing their pengantin (newly-weds) rituals for the cameras, Mr MC recited more and more pantuns.

Ikan di laut asam di darat
Dalam kuali bertemu jua
Hati terpaut janji diikat
Atas pelamin bertemu jua
Orang jauh dikenang-kenang
Hanya terkenang pada yang satu
Mula berkenal kemudian bertunang
Diatas pelamin sama bersatu
Panas kering siapakan tahu
Hujan rintik di daun pandan
Berjalan seiring bersentuh bahu
Sama cantik sama padan
Tuan puteri tersenyum-senyum
Melihat laksamana bermain rodat
Senyum-senyum jangan tak senyum
Sudah sempurna segala adat
Pergi berzanji di pekan pagoh
Beli sekati ikan senohong
Sudah berjanji bersetia tegoh
Jangan dimungkiri bercakap bohong
Dengarlah ini ayah berpesan
Anak menantu, ayah ingatkan
Berkasih sayang sesama insan
Jangan cepat menjadi bosan
Di malam hari terang senegeri
Bulan purnama dihujung julai
Majlis gahari bertambah seri
Menyambut kedatangan kedua mempelai
Amat garang datuk bentara
Musuh melanggar habis dibenam
Dulu seorang kini berdua
Hidup bersama susah senang

Yes indeed it was a well-orchestrated ceremony, simple, no hitches, no long-winded speeches, no gaffes, no stammers, stutters, no jokes, just seemingly endless pantuns. To Boboy and Gegirl, yours is the wedding I will remember for a long time, semoga bahagia hingga ke anak cucu (may you be blessed with happiness even when you have grandchildren). As in the words of Saloma's evergreen:

Semoga berpanjangan
Semoga berkekalan
Semoga satu tujuan
Semoga aman

Hidup mestilah kukuh
Sabar paling perlu
Cinta setiap hari
Senyum mesti selalu

Malaysians of other races when considering using pantuns,  just two or three should do nicely. Otherwise it can be an overkill.... a culture overload.

Angin barat gelombang utara,
Tinggi petak dari ruang;
Jangan diharap semacam saya,
Budi tiada bahasa pun kurang

oooops.... I had meant to use only one pantun

19 comments:

Tommy Yewfigure said...

Sweet, wah u memorized all those pantuns, gee u r good.

BoyBoy & GirlGirl, that's so typically 1Malaysian cute :))

Cheers,
Tommy

P/S - I like Red Alfa's red coloured velvet wedding suite, u looked very pretty too :))

Zendra-Maria said...

Tommy, these are the days of cut-and-paste, no need to make so many brain-cells die...

Me and RA you can recognise? waaa,,, we are still unchanged - YESSSS!!!

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Zen,
This pantun thingy is very contagious...first Aunty Ninot, then Aunty Pi, now it's you....anyway, cats don't usually do pantuns as they like to go straight to the point. Pantun is more like...errr....beating around the bush, non? purrr....meow!

Nin said...

Wow! Bersanding pakai baju "kot"!!

Kak Zen, I don't remember any pantun being recited at my akad-nikah, but on The Vampire's side... bukan setakat pantun, joget lambak lagi! Wuhuu!!

Red Alfa said...

Yea Tommy
Aargh.. I thought I had lost this photo!

Fancy wearing red colored velvet suit (and tie) for wedding in HOT Tropical Malaysia. What were WE thinking! And didn't I hate red, then! Actually, I loved only deep purple and that everything should had been.

Also, isn't all that totally unclear of the concept?

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Zendra, I love this posting. And yes, back when I was on my safari days, for those ahemmm, two legged beauties in sarong kebayas, ha ha, and my love of Malay food, I dated lovely Malay ladies....
and I can tell you, competition was stiff, ha ha...

Not to mention my Alfa Romeo had its tires punctured or air released several times too.
(Some guys don't play fair, ha ha)
And quite often taking, fetching a date by taxi, my car parked couple of miles away, ha ha....

I got a couple of my father's Malay good friends to coach, guide and teach me pantuns....hey! I have to be armed, right?

You should see me copy on to the palm of my hand, but had problems under a bulan terang.....so my Zippo cigeratte lighter not only for lighting cigerattes, but to light up my palm....pretend to light rokok tengok...
But I sure impressed my ahemm, dates.

But on an off I get one who pantun back at me, then its lintang pukang scratch my head for ones I had memorised, ha ha ha, but of course it would mean something else....really hilarious the things I did to win fair maidens....
Ahhh, but making an SYT laugh is half the battle won, *wink*.

Angin menderu menolak awan.
Awan berarak hingga ke senjah,
Mula berkenal lalu berkawan,
Berputik pula rasa chinta.

Bunga Tanjong si bunga pekan.
Harum melilit di sanggul perawan,
Tiada berita hati terkilan,
Lama berpisah rindu-rinduan.

You have a pleasant week and simpan satu lagu dalam hati, Lee.

Zendra-Maria said...

Cat, I believe your species prefer Tom and Jerry kind of (chase and-)pant-toons *grrrrr*

Zendra-Maria said...

Lady Nin... joget lambak I like verrryy much!!! That's pretty obvious from my current playlist hehe... And I think I like the vampire lah..

Zendra-Maria said...

Baju kot merah... hehehe little did I realise that 29 years on there'll be a red motorcar that will get a lot of loving attention...

Zendra-Maria said...

Lee, my, my, your pantuns are a class above the ordinary. Who taught you those and where were you when I was handing out my resume??? (borrowing your line)

Owh... I think you were already handcuffed by then hehehe...

You and Mrs Lee have a great weekend, and don't forget to practise the tango, you two :)

DrSam said...

Seing kanda RA in that bright colored wedding attire, with one big smile on that auspicious day...that seriously is an overkill :)

Wishing both of you...Semoga bahagia berkekalan Kanda.

Tommy Yewfigure said...

hahaha RA, it did look good then, bet Zen loves the feel of velvet, can make static electricity...hair stand mah!! Ya lor Deep Purple would had been a better choice, then u'll be smoking on the water :)

Zendra-Maria said...

Dinda, ada pengantin menggigil memikirkan tanggungjawab baru tapi kanda mu itu lain - sikapnya sehingga hari in ialah "Bring it on, bebeh... I'm ever red(y)" ... hehehe

Zendra-Maria said...

Tommy, velvet was "in" then - you should have seen our javanese costume :DDD

tireless mom said...

Owhhhh... suka gambar pengantin tu. Merpati dua sejoli!

Zendra-Maria said...

Merpati2 itu sekarang dah jadi itek angsa :)

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Zendra, I copied those in my old diaries, notebooks, ink pun suda faded.
But hey....I still use now and then, buat some blog lady friends lintang pukang, ha ha.
The things I did to win fair maiden!

Haha, thank you for your kind compliments.
I'm wondering how I missed you then.
Ahhh, but you were in maybe Form 1 or at most 2, no offence if silap sini, ha ha. While I was already on safari.

You stay young and keep a song in your heart, Lee.

Al-Manar said...

I envy those who can rattle away the pantun way. You can do it and a number of your visitors above above can show their prowess. Putting that aside I still enjoy reading and listening to pantun and your posting.

Mat Cendana said...

The pictures - they remind me of my cousins' weddings in the early-mid `70s. And how much different these were from the ones we see now.

Yes, we were generally poorer but somehow the much-cheaper weddings then were more memorable. The spirit of togetherness when everybody was involved - as opposed to the catered food, hotel bersanding... this is what I miss most. There's a place in the sun where there's room for everyone...