Sunday, December 09, 2007

Leh Pian (Sizes 5, 3 and 1)

A Foochow was ready to get married and a match would be made. The girl's family would have lots to do before the wedding.

One of the first things to do was to announce her forthcoming marriage through ordering of the "wedding cakes" or leh Pian. Size Five wedding cakes would be sent to all the married sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles from the mother's family and father's family.

This cake was made from flour, sesame seeds, pork fat, sugar and peanuts. To me it was a wonderful cake and not made any more today due to changes in taste and inconvenience.

In the 50's and 60's when these cakes were sent out to relatives, it was a wonderful event because it meant that a daughter was to be married and great happiness was in the air. And the wedding was so exceptionally important event in any body's life.

those who received Size Five leh Pian would have to give a gold ring as a wedding present. Besides the really warm hearted aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters would also get together to give a few dinners before the girl was married off. This was called the "sending off" dinner. There would be a lot of merry making and good advice given. sometimes the aunts would pull the girl aside to whisper some very personal advice, and some tips about the birds and bees.

Size three leh pian were meant for near relatives and in return these relatives would present two yards of cloth and or a sarong, plus the red packet of course.

Size one leh pian was for ordinary close friends.

I miss eating these actually because I love the sesame seeds. In those days, one could not get sesame seeds easily, except in the biscuits, kompian or leh pian.

Today as I have said earlier, Foochow families find it unrealistic to make all these cakes and it would be inconvinient to send them around as close relatives are now all over the world. Mobility and modernity have definitely put a stop to this very interesting and warm and affectionate social etiquette.

Many families say," We just want to make life as simple as possible."

2 memories:

Greg Wee said...

NEE: When Greg and I got married, my parents were trying to figure wat size for whom. apparently got some of grandmas too. Haha..i love this traditionally thingy. make more sense.

Wat we did was use red packets instead. Five is one type of red packets with certain amount and the amount get less with the sizes. but this method is a little weird. giving out angpows before weddings. Mum also return some back to them in replacement of something as well.

sarawakiana said...

When I got married,my mum and the elders decided to send "which size" to who.

Now in the Foochow tradition, when we receive the red packet today, we do not keep all the money. It is good manners to return some. So giving is respect, receiving is graciousness and to return (dah) is loving and showing of generosity. A great deal of undercurrent emotions are involved in this system of giving and receiving....So it is like a macro credit and a micro credit thingy in modern terms.

It is really fascinating to analyse all these. Intrigue. So we must not lose all these wonderful practices.


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