A wed­ding gift that keeps on giv­ing

The Star Malaysia - - Nation -

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.

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