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Betrothal 过大礼

Betrothal 过大礼


Betrothal, Guo Da Li 过大礼, also known as ‘Na Cai’, is the formality performed by the groom to bind both families together, and it shows the sincerity of the Groom to the Bride’s family.

Traditionally, the betrothal is done two to three months before the distribution of invitation cards where a senior relative or matchmaker will accompany the groom to present the “Pin Jin” 聘金 (dowry money) and the pre-discussed gifts to the bride’s family. Nowadays this process is usually done two to three weeks before the wedding day and a good friend can also accompany the groom.

Other than dowry money, gifts to be presented to the bride’s family include gold jewellery and auspicious food items such as oranges, wedding cakes, alcohol, traditional biscuits and candy, grains such as red dates (早生贵子), longan (圆圆满满), lotus seeds (连连生子), lily bulbs (百年好合), winter melon sweets(白头到老)and rock sugar(甜甜蜜蜜). In Singapore, due to our diverse roots from different dialect groups, different food items are used by the different dialect groups for guo da li. Hokkien families will request for rice and sesame biscuits 米佬麻佬and peanuts sugee 贡糖, while Teochews will prefer sesame and peanuts candy 芝麻花生糖. Both dialects and Hainanese will have cans of pork leg 猪脚罐 to represent prosperity. Cantonese and Hakka will request for Dragon and Phoenix Cakes 龙凤嫁女饼 (also known as Happiness Cakes) or seafood 海味 instead. Uniquely for the Teochews in Singapore, a Teochew Wax 美满良缘喜蜡 will be placed on the tray with the Pin Jin 聘金and gold jewellery 四点金, symbolizing the groom’s parents’ love for the bride.

All of the above mentioned food items will be prepared in pairs (成双成对), and carried over in traditional tiered wedding baskets, with the more tiers the better, representing more and more prosperity for the couple in the future. After receiving the gifts, the bride’s family will return a portion of the dowry money and food items, as a gesture of goodwill and to share the good fortune between the two families.