The Orang Sungai ethnic that lives in the district of Beluran in the Sandakan Division has marriage custom that nearly equals to this ethnic custom in other districts in Sabah, but with slight differences.
The marriage custom begins with the man side giving two signals to the girl family by giving either water, wood, kitchen items, clothings or makeup items. On the third giving the man side is questioned whether the items given are only alms or there is an underneath motive. If there is no specific purpose then the girl family makes a report to the village head and the man side has to pay fines to the value of two gongs, the purpose of which no man shall undervalue their daughter and her family.
If the man side wants to enquire then they have to give an adult chicken as a respect to the girl purity, the girl that is going to be proposed.
PROPOSING A MARRIAGE
The items needed for this event is RM20 cash as an ice breaker, a beg of man clothings to be left in the girl house during the duration of engagement, a machete with its cover, a strand of metal for fencing and a ring.
THE CUSTOM OF PROPOSING A MARRIAGE
The items for this event are entrusted to the deputy or head of delegation whose members are from three to seven persons. The package must not be left on the floor until this process ends.
Only when the ice breaker money is handed over then the girls parents request the delegation to say their purpose of visit. The girl parents discuss with their family members issues that can be brought up as their requests. For example, each family member who is absent from the wedding ceremony is substituted with RM20. If the marriage is cancelled then the money is unreturnable.
When discussion is over the girls family lay out their requests such as RM5,000 for example, excluding a new house, a cow and bedroom set. When the requests are agreed upon the girl family informs the delegation about the family background. All agreed discussions are documented to be kept by both parties as reference.
The engagement duration is then discussed. If, for example, the duration is three months the man side has to handover the money at the end of the period. If the money is unavailable as yet then the period is extended for another three months. If the duration is already twice extended and the money is still unavailable then the girl side needs to decide whether to treat it as a debt or the engagement is over.
THE CUSTOM WHILE IN ENGAGEMENT
The duration of engagement is unfixed. If the girl requests are fulfilled then the marriage date can be earlier and fixed according to Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him) practices.
During engagement both are forbidden to cut their hair or to attend festivities except with the fiancÃ or fiancee or family members permission. If this custom is unadhered to then he or she has to pay sogit (fines). If the man cancels the engagement without reasons then he is fined of one gong.
SPECIAL BATH, HENNA EVENING, AND SITTING ON THE DIAS CEREMONY
The mandi berlimbun (a special bath) is held at dawn. The Mak Andam (the lady who dresses up the bride or groom) of both sides recites mantras to discard any ill fates and pray for the best for the couple. The henna evening is smearing on white powder on the couple bodies to make the skin appears glowing, and henna on the fingers and toes.
The groom arrives at the bride house conveniently after midday. The bride side prepares regi-regian or puketian (glass kitchen items) that acts as the head of dowry The groom entourage is requested to encircle the house three or seven times. The bride side prepares a machete and a tray of chicken blood to be stepped on by the groom, to signify acceptance of the marriage. Mak Andam sprinkles yellow rice onto the groom and his entourage.
After the marriage solemnization the groom enters the bride room and then turns a handkerchief three times above the bride head and releases it on the bride palms, the bride of whom receives it to signify voluntarily accepting the man as her legal husband. This event is followed by the sitting on the diasceremony.
When the groom enters the bride room the Mak Andam usually asks for rantar kaput (a knife) and RM50 for singkab lawang (lifting the bride veil) except if the bride is a widow or a single mother.
THE MUTINGKUANG (TO THE GROOMS HOUSE) CEREMONY
Before the newly-wed couple enters the groom house, the groom side needs to prepare a gadur (copper item) as permission to enter the house, a copper machete kept at the doorstep, a machete, a container for keeping betel leaves, a tray of chicken blood, yellow rice, and sugarcane as sogit (fines). The couple is forbidden to stay overnight at the groom house. They must return to the bride house before dawn. If this custom is not adhered it is believed the couple will not live in peace and will not live long.
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