A wedding gift that keeps on giving
KUALA LUMPUR: In true-blue Malaysian spirit, an Indian family from Tanjung Malim is showing the way to a more united Malaysia, where people of various races embrace each other’s culture.
It all started 46 years ago on Sept 2, 1971, when a young Vadivelu Muniandy and his bride Maliga Yagabaram received three sets of traditional Malay wedding wear as a gift from the groom’s elderly neighbour.
She had requested that the couple put on the most fitting one for their wedding photographs.
This explains the two sets of photos – with the couple in their finest veshti and saree during the traditional Hindu wedding rites, and in traditional baju Melayu and baju kebaya, complete with tengkolok (head dress) on their wedding day.
In one photo, Vadivelu and Maliga are surrounded by Malay children from the village. His was the only Indian family in Kampung Ketuyong then.
The request did not come as a surprise to Vadivelu given that his family has a very cordial relationship with their Malay neighbours. But for Maliga, it was a surprisingly warm welcome to her new village.
“I had a very happy childhood growing up in the Malay kampung with neighbours who became our lifelong friends. Till this day, we still visit each other’s homes during Deepavali and Hari Raya,” the 70-year-old Vadivelu told The Star.
Maliga, 63, said they were very happy to be able to wear the Malay wedding attire on their big day.
The portrait of the bride donning Indian matha patti (bridal hair jewellery) and jasmine flowers in her hair, and clad in an exquisite baju kebaya, is a picture of multicultural acceptance and racial harmony.
What started as a simple request from a neighbour has become a tradition with their four children who believe in embracing their fellow Malaysians’ cultures.
Rishikumar Vadivelu, 42, said he and his siblings had their engagement photos taken not only in traditional Indian attire but also in Malay and Chinese clothing.
“We want to encourage Malaysians to embrace and understand each other’s unique heritage,” Rishikumar, a business owner, said.
He said the practice was also his way of showing that he identified himself as a Malaysian first.
“This is our Malaysian tradition and one that I hope my children will continue to embrace,” he said.
Merge of cultures: Vadivelu and his wife Maliga with a picture of themselves in traditional Malay costume during their wedding.