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Peranakans [Straits-born Chinese] claim with pride that they have adopted the best of Malay and Chinese customs. These were reflected most distinctly in their weddings of old. Customarily the wedding ceremony would stretch over a twelve-day period, and it was not uncommon for the bridal parents to borrow whole rows of houses to hold the nuptial dinner. The blend of customs was most outstanding when the groom arrived at the bride's house: he was greeted with an outburst of 'seruni', 'boria' and the firing of crackers as soon as he stepped into the house.

Prior to the marriage proper, the groom's family would have already sent the dowry to the mother of the bride. During the wedding ceremony the couple paid their obeisance at the ancestral altar and to the bride's parents and elders. Then in Chinese style, they adjourned to the bedroom to share their first breakfast together. It was believed that at no time during the ceremony must the bride allow the groom to step on her, for to have him do so would make her his doormat for life. After breakfast the couple left for the groom's house where a similar ceremony was held.

It was quite normal then to go on a show-off walk from the bride's home to the groom's. Those who accompanied the couple, shading them and keeping them cool, were fancifully and flashily dressed in their best sarongs, kebayas, kerongsang and jewelry. It was all important to impress `the other side'.

Like all weddings past and present, the focus of attention was the bride. Her long hair was stylishly set in a 'sanggul', a large knot right on top her head. Into it were stuck hairpins of silver and gold, with multi-shaped pinheads encrusted with diamonds and colorful gems. They were so closely positioned that the whole 'sanggul' resembled a single head-dress. This was the opportune moment to display the family's wealth and, to lend greater prestige, a lot more jewelry was borrowed from grandmothers and aunts.

The bridal gown consisted of a satin skirt, heavily trimmed and embroidered, a Chinese style satin jacket with side-fastenings, a cape consisting of layers of petal-shaped embroidered satin and four heavy necklaces of gold and silver. Shoes were hand-stitched, beaded, velvet pumps. Precautions were taken to prevent sweat stains on the bridal costume, so the bride, as if she was not bedecked uncomfortably enough, had to wear a woven bamboo camisole over another cotton gown.

Peranakan weddings were very symbolic in nature. Besides all the beautification accessories, the bride wore a head band of velvet, sewn with gold motifs to depict the Eight Saints. These symbolized love, longevity, endurance and all the good things in life. During the twelve-day celebrations, there were much praying, chanting and feasting.

Answer the following questions using complete sentences
  1. Why did the bride's parents sometimes borrow whole rows of houses to hold the nuptial dinner ?
  2. In what way did the groom's arrival at the bride's house reflect a mixture of Malay and Chinese customs ?
  3. Why must the bride be careful not to allow the groom to step on her during the ceremony ?
  4. Why did the bride's family who accompanied the couple to the groom's house dress fancifully and flashily ?
  5. State two examples from the passage which showed how much the bride was the focus of attention at the wedding.
  6. Why was the bride adorned with all the beautification accessories ?
  7. According to the passage, Peranakan weddings were very symbolic in nature. Give two practices from the passage which shows this.
  Fill in the blanks with one correct word from the passage.
  8. The child's parents were embarrassed by his sudden ______ in the quiet restaurant.
  9. After the meeting, everyone ______ to the dining hall for tea.
  10. He would tell us the reasons for his plans at the ______ time.
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This is probably because the wedding was usually held on a very grand scale.


his arrival which was greeted with 'seruni' and 'boria', and the firing of crackers are customs of the Malays and Chinese respectively.


This is because the Perankans believed that if this happened, the bride would be bullied by the groom for the rest of her life.


They probably wanted to impress the groom's family with their dresses and jewelry.


The two examples are the elaborate bridal gown and hand-stitched shoes worn by the bride, and the bride's sanggul that looked like a head-dress which all required much time and effort to prepare.
  6. The wedding day was the opportune moment for the bride's family to show of the family's wealth.
  7. The first was the practice of never allowing the groom to step on he bride as that symbolized being bullied by him for the rest of her life. Secondly, the practice of making the bride wear a headband with motifs depicting the Eight Saints that represented love, longevity, endurance and all the good things in life for the couple.
  8. outburst
  9. adjourned
  10. opportune

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Comprehension 1


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