Marrying a Princess in Brunei
When civil servant Khairul Khalil married Princess Majeedah, the daughter of one of the richest men in the world, it was an event lasting two weeks and of unrevealed cost.
Day 1: The proposal
The first step in marrying a Bruneian princess involved doing what any honourable gentleman would: ask her father for her hand in marriage.
In Brunei it is common practice for the man to bring an entourage with him to seek the hand of a woman in marriage. When he proposed to marry the daughter of the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, a man whose palace includes the following:
− 1,788 rooms, some of which are furnished in gold and diamond
− 257 baths inlaid with gold and silver
− a garage with a capacity of 110 cars to hold some of his 150 Rolls Royces
− 650 suites furnished at a cost of at least 150,000 euros
Khairul Khalil, a commoner and civil servant, brought along a sizeable entourage led by a retired major-general. They said a prayer or a doa selamat and set off for above-said palace, the largest in the world.
Upon reaching the Istana Nurul Iman – the Palace of the Light of the Faith – their arrival was announced and an audience with His Majesty, the Sultan, was requested. The Sultan agreed and made a titah, or an address, and expressed his approval. Allah's blessings were asked for and thus concluded the first day of the two-week-long ceremony.
Day 2: The Gendang Jaga-Jaga
Apart from the hand of Princess Majeedah Nuurul Bulqiah, the prince-to-be also received the Gendang Jaga-Jaga. This is a musical ceremony attended by all the prominent officials of the state. The nakara drum was sounded and the music of the royal orchestra was accompanied by a 21-gun salute followed. Another Doa Selamat was said.
As news of the wedding spread, sales of black and white fabrics shot up. Instead of capitalising on the increased demand for these fabric used to make the traditional Bruneian attire, retailers were selling them at a discounted rate of $6 per metre. Also selling fast was gold thread – at $100 per metre – to be woven into the clothing.
Day 3: Exchange of gifts
A member of the royal family, Prince Sufri Bolkiah, was appointed by the Sultan to oversee matters on the groom's side. His approval had to be sought, before the groom could deliver the gifts to his bride.
A six-year-old girl was dressed up in full bridal regalia and adorned with gold. A piece of “Kain Jong Sarat” (Songket sarong), a complete set of dress, pair of bangles, pair of earrings, four rings, a pair of necklaces and other essentials for the royal bride were placed on a gangsa, or a ceremonial plate. (More)
The girl was carried by a royal officer to the palace, along with the gift-bearing gangsa, which was borne by 16 palace staff with 16 ceremonial candles.
At the palace, the girl was handed to a representative of the royal family, while the gifts were accepted and reciprocated with a set for the groom.
For the commoners, films screenings and “live” performances were held at a space adjacent to the palace, where they too could partake in the celebration of royal bliss.
Day 4: The Berbedak
All members of the royal family turned up in full regalia for the Istiadat Berbedak Diraja. Veiled in intricate red-lace, the bride took her place in the palace's throne room. Henna and coloured rice powder were applied to the hands of the royal couple by their immediate families.
The ceremony was televised “live” on Brunei national television.
Day 5: Solemnisation
The Istiadat Akad Nikah Diraja took place the following day at the national mosque with the bride's father, the Sultan, opening the ceremony with a prayer.
The groom sat on a square cushion surrounded by four candles in the middle of the hall. The sultan consented to the ceremony and the marriage vow certificate was brought before him. The groom then accepted the Akad Nikah, or the wedding solemnisation, and a 17-gun salute was sounded.
He later paid his respects to father-in-law, his own father and other male members of the families.
Day 7: The banquet
The newly-weds drove through the streets of the capital Bandar Seri Darrusalem in a golden Rolls Royce, greeted by throngs of people who had gathered to see them. A lavish wedding feast was later held under the marquee on the grounds of the Royal Palace.
The princess sported a tiara, as favoured by brides, royal and otherwise around the world, and held a bouquet of diamond-studded flowers. She sat beneath a gold-leaf canopy and when her groom approached, he made an understated gesture of affection by placing his hands briefly on her forehand, cueing a 17-gun salute outside the hall.
Day 10: Meet the in-laws
An invite was sent to the groom for the newly-weds to visit the groom's family. This is then followed by a visit to the bride's.
Prior to the princess's wedding in 2007 were the nuptials of the Crown Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah Bolkiah, then 30 and Sarah Salleh, who was 17.
The bride was of mixed Swiss and Bruneian parentage and according to the wedding booklet, known for “her grace, intelligence and positive attitude”.
Regarded to be a low-key event by the sultanate's standards, it was estimated to have cost around US$5 million.
The event was attended by royalty from Japan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Britain, Malaysia, as well as heads of state from neighbouring countries like Singapore.
The royal family was ferried in 105 limousines to the wedding.
The couple are now parents to a four-year-old boy and welcomed their second child, a daughter this January.
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