Not many people that I know of, chew betel leaves nowadays. My late maternal grandmother was one of them. I must've been around five or six-years old when I first watched her go through the ritual of this amazing habit. She had this small brass basket that held four tiny cups with covers plus a small shear-like implement called a kacip. The kacip is used to cut the areca nut (pinang) into small strips and also to shave off some slices of gambier. She would take a clean betel leaf, dip her finger into a can containing lime-chalk (kapur), and smear the chalk onto the surface of the leaf. She then sprinkles some pinang and gambier onto the leaf, fold it up maybe three or four times before popping the thing into her mouth and start chewing happily. Sometimes tobacco is added into the mix but I'm not entirely sure. After a few minutes of blissful chewing, she would work out a glob of grossly-coloured saliva which she spits into this special container with careless ease... a remarkable woman, my late grandmother. May the Almighty bless her soul.
Anyway, this post is about our trip to the island named after the areca palm, Pulau Pinang. Apart from lending its name to an island, the pinang fruit also feature in a well-known Malay proverb, `Bagai pinang dibelah dua', a metaphor used to describe a very nice, if not perfect, match of two persons. The phrase is commonly used as a polite compliment to a newly-wed couple at their wedding ceremony.
Pinang, as a word on its own, also carries the meaning of seeking the hand of someone's daughter for marriage. And I guess this ties in nicely with the objective of our travel to Penang in the first place.
Two weeks ago, we traveled north for the engagement ceremony of our eldest son to a sweet young lass from Balik Pulau. The formal pinangan process had actually been carried out three months ago and was hinted in an earlier post here -> A taste of nasi lemuni in Pulau Pinang.
It was a very small representation from our side because both parties agreed to make it a simple and brief affair. Alhamdulillah, things went smoothly and we hope the wedding, planned for September this year, would be without any hitches as well, insyaAllah.
|Tepak sireh, the traditional symbol of gift in Malay engagements and weddings|
|The engagement ring and tanda hantaran (folded RM notes)|
|A simple assortment of gifts from our side|
|The future mother-in-law slipping on the ring on the future daughter-in-law's finger|