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Long-time readers of my articles will know that I'm single.... but recently, I remembered that I actually was "married" before. Ahahaha!!! As a travel influencer and content creator, I had the opportunity to explore and receive first-hand experiences on different things, including marriage.
On a trip to the Mah Meri Cultural Village, I was randomly selected to be a "bride" in a cultural wedding ceremony for the guests. The reason was simple. It wasn't that random, but I was chosen because I had long hair and it was easier for them to fix the headgear on me, held on by my hair.
For the uninitiated, "Mah Meri" is an aboriginal tribe that resides in Malaysia. In their language, Mah Meri means "People of the Forest", although they were originally known as the "People of the Sea". This tribe lives in Carey Island, about 70 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur city. The size of the community here is only about 4,000 people.
To promote the tribe, and to create an income source for them, a cultural village was established to welcome visitors, who were required to pay an entrance fee. The Mah Meri tribe, one of 19 aboriginal tribes in Peninsular Malaysia, is rich in customs and traditions. Therefore, a visit is a must for those who are interested in such subjects.
It is a good thing that modern civilization has not touched these indigenous Mah Meri people, by their own choice. In fact, they still adopt a mystical cultural heritage that is steeped in the spirit of animism. This means that they believe that spirits live in everything around us; not only in humans and animals but also in plants and inanimate objects.
During the mock wedding where I was the bride, guests were shown how a Mah Meri man selects his bride, how she should react if she accepts his hand in marriage, or if she declines it. In this case, the groom had no choice but to choose "me" because I was already selected for the role as his bride. HEHEHEHE!!! As one of the most auspicious celebrations of the Mah Meri tribe, the intriguing wedding ceremony was conducted based on spiritual beliefs passed down from one generation to another. Even though it was "only" a mock wedding, everything was conducted properly and seriously like a real wedding.
Having traveled so extensively and tried out so many different things, my participation in this mock wedding ceremony as the bride was one of the most outstanding experiences to date. My groom was a friend from the Philippines, another travel influencer. Out of respect for him and my two "bridesmaids" who were visiting guests from France, I have blurred out their faces in this photograph.
Till today, our friends still make fun of us by declaring that we are "husband and wife", even though Edgar, the groom, is already back in his hometown in Cebu.
Oh, another major celebration for this tribe is known as "Spirits Day", observed to appease the spirits of their ancestors and to seek their blessings. Celebrated over four days, with the date selected by tribal elders through their dreams, and usually falls at the beginning of the year, the Jo-Oh mask dance is performed to invite ancestral spirits to join in the festivities.
The mask represents the souls of the ancestors and it is believed that the wearer during the dance is bestowed with spiritual powers, transmitted from the ancestors. Again, guests to the cultural village are encouraged to participate in the dance demonstration to get a feel of how things really go.
Granted, these experiences may not be suitable or interesting for everyone but there is indeed much to learn about other communities if only we keep an open mind.