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Tepak Sirih – The Offering

March 2, 2009

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Tepak sirih (credit)

I thought it would be most appropriate to start off this blog with one of the most important aspects in Malay wedding custom – that is in presenting the tepak sirih or the betel leaf container from the groom to the bride, and vice versa.

The tepak sirih consists of 6 cembul (containers) that contains gambir, tobacco, betel nut, lime and betel leaves. The kacip (similar to a nutcracker) is placed in the tepak itself. All these cembul are arranged  in a precise manner lest wrong message will be conveyed to the other party. The whole tepak must also be presented as a whole set.

It was a norm in the old days to have an arranged marriage. Sometimes the groom may find the bride not to his liking after spending their first bridal night. To show how unhappy he was and that he wanted to end the marriage, he would turn the tepak sirih upside down which was earlier placed outside of the bridal chamber. That would signify the end of the union.

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