Saturday, February 05, 2011

Kelabit Wedding

The day was clear and the skies blue, a wonderful day for a wedding. We assembled early to catch the transportation provided for wedding guests. The Church was a distance from the hotel, a simple church with a huge worship hall decorated for the occasion.
Among the guests were families from Taiwan, villagers from Bario, friends and family from Kuching and Kuala Lumpur, and the few of us from overseas. It was a traditional western wedding translated between English and Mandarin. The bride's gown was incredibly beautiful with the longest and widest train I have ever seen. The sermon, delivered by a Malaysian minister, was somewhat amusing as he talked about subservience on the part of the wife and following in his footsteps, showing obedience and respect for her husband. As with all weddings, it was a happy and touching ceremony followed by photos and more food.

We spent the afternoon in the Islamic Museum before heading to the dinner reception.
The dinner reception was quite the affair and we found it to be both fascinating and entertaining. The hotel hall accommodated approximately 500 guests, several hundred from the Kelabit village in Bario. It was more than a family wedding, but a village celebration. The guests were treated to dancing performances traditional to the Kelabit tribe. The bride and groom entered the hall in native costume, complete with headdress and blowpipe, and made their way slowiy to the main stage. Midway through, a group of local woman made a traditional rice wine toast by chanting a folk love story as they walked slowly toward the couple. They also presented the couple with a beautiful traditional musical instrument. Dinner consisted of 10 courses of Chinese banquet style. It was a wedding like no other!

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