By Kim Ban Cheo

ISBN-10: 9971711885

ISBN-13: 9789971711887

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Pyramid” handkerchieves and bottles of perfume. The most popular brands of perfume for weddings then were “San-talia” and “Evening in Paris”. Another popular brand was “Forget-Me-Not”. In rural areas, the presents might have taken the form of bottles of homemade coconut oil and other produce of the farm. These presents whether of perfume or coconut oil were known as olehs. Each oleh was acknowledged with a small ang pow or red packet containing two, four or six cents. As was mentioned earlier, close relatives were more or less obliged to give gold jewellery.

Two bottles of brandy with, of course, the mandatory pieces of red paper pasted on for luck. Apart from these material benefits, the matchmaker had the satisfaction of a job well done. Some considered a successful match a meritorious deed, for it was believed that if one could bring three couples together in marriage, one was assured a place in Heaven. 22 Besides this, the Nyonya matchmaker was an incurable romantic. However, there have been tales of unscrupulous matchmakers who, on being bribed by a family with an old spinster with some defects or a young man who was similarly handicapped, would go to great length to deceive the other party by all sorts of trickery.

However, should the answers be favourable and both parties wished to proceed with the match, an auspicious date would be chosen for the official engagement which was an exchange of candles as a sign of betrothal. The ceremony of exchanging candles usually took place in the young lady’s home. On the engagement day, an even number of the young man’s relatives would go to the girl’s house carrying two pairs of red candles wrapped in red paper. The candles, weighing one kati (600 g) a pair, were presented to the girl’s parents on a tray.

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A baba wedding by Kim Ban Cheo

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