Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia Cultural Traditions


The Libyan wedding ceremony is usually Islamic, as that is the country's state religion, and is commonly officiated by an imam. The signing of the marriage contract takes place in the bride's home, and the ceremony and festivities may take place on another day entirely. Historically, the bride's body must be covered and her face veiled, but more recently, while still following those guidelines, she might wear a traditional Western wedding gown. In the Islamic wedding ceremony, the newlyweds eat their wedding dinner in seclusion from guests, and the bride is showered with rice and candy as she is escorted to her new home.


Traditionally, Lithuanian weddings have been community affairs, involving the guests as much as possible, not only in singing and dancing, but also assisting in such ceremonies as removing the bride's wreath, presenting gifts, and helping to cut the wedding cake. A Master of Ceremonies, the svotas, selected by the groom, often "directs" activities throughout the wedding. When a bride first enters her new home, she places a red sash or towel on the stove to gain the goodwill of the household spirits. Lithuanian newlyweds are showered with grain and water, and sometimes clothed in furs, representing the hope that they will be rich and successful.


Malaysians are mostly Muslim, with small pockets of Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. Weddings traditionally take place just after the harvest season, when money and food are more plentiful. On the wedding morning, children parade to the bride's house bearing trays of food and money tucked inside animal or flower-shaped envelopes. The bride is bathed and her fingers stained with mehndi, or henna designs; the groom travels to her house to the beat of drums and tambourines. He, too, is stained with henna while the imam conducts the akad nikah, or signing of the marriage contract. The bersandang ceremony follows: the couple mounts a special dais wearing royal crowns and must sit perfectly still before their "subjects," who sprinkle them with water and yellow rice. The couple is offered chicken, rice and eggs; they then seclude themselves in a special room and feed each other their first meal as husband and wife. Wedding guests may receive as gifts decorated hard-boiled eggs, fertility symbols.

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