Ah the wedding gatecrashing games. A day when torture becomes acceptable in the name of tradition.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Chinese wedding tradition of gatecrashing, it is when the groom and his ‘brothers’ or heng tai (兄弟) go to pick up the bride on the morning of the wedding.
However, as tradition states, the relatives of the bride will stop the groom at the door; symbolising their reluctance to give the bride away. Unless he proves himself worthy by completing whatever challenges they have put in his way.
In the old days, this custom was a way to brighten up the mood of the newlyweds who may be meeting each other for the first time through an arranged marriage. Thus, the wedding gatecrashing games are regarded as an ice-breaking session for everyone involved.
Today, the task of stopping the groom at the door is done by the bridesmaids, or ji mui (姐妹). Many of whom will have been planning this session for weeks.
When a gatecrashing session is well-planned and creative, it can be lots of fun. But when the bridesmaids just want to see how far they can push the envelope, the session can resemble a medieval torture session for the heng tais than a fun icebreaker.
How much pain is inflicted, you might ask? How about an impromptu leg waxing session?
Some of the activities are just plain weird. I mean, why ask the guys to wear coconut-shell bras and g-strings? What is the symbolism in getting the guys to cross-dress, or lick whipped cream off each other’s nipples?
One traditional game is called “酸甜苦辣” (sour-sweet-bitter-spicy), representing the ups and downs of married life. In this game, the groom and heng tais will eat different items representing each of these flavours.
However, some bridesmaids may mix wasabi and chili padi and other stomach-churning ingredients together. If you need an ambulance on standby, it might be a sign that your wedding gatecrashing games have taken a turn for the extreme.
Thankfully, the level of wedding gatecrashing games in Malaysia are nowhere near those in China.
So, the next time your friend asks you to become his heng tai, better prepare yourself. Useful suggestions include bringing an extra change of clothes, lining your stomach with a glass of milk, and doing stretches and warm ups.
But above all, don’t lose your cool. The wedding games are supposed to be fun, and if you play along nicely, you’ll get the groom through the door on time, and have a good time doing it. Good luck, boys!