The daughter of one of Malaysia’s most powerful sultans married her Dutch fiance Monday in a tradition-filled ceremony during a day of lavish celebrations witnessed by crowds of excited well-wishers.
Princess Tunku Tun Aminah Sultan Ibrahim, 31, the only daughter of the Sultan of Johor, tied the knot with Dennis Muhammad Abdullah, 28, capping a romance of over three years.
The Dutchman, who has converted to Islam, and the princess wed according to Muslim Malay custom at the Serene Hill Palace, the royal family’s residence in the southern city of Johor Bahru. The private ceremony was attended by close family and friends.
The groom wore traditional white Malay wedding attire and the bride wore a white dress, with Dennis Muhammad placing the ring on his bride’s finger in a special room of the palace and offering a dowry of around $5, in line with centuries-old local customs.
An evening ceremony replete with pomp and tradition capped the festivities in the southern state of Johor, with the couple sitting on an elaborately decorated dias as family members and dignitaries dropped petals into their hands and sprinkled them with scented water and yellow rice.
Among those offering their blessings to the couple in the “sitting in state” ceremony — traditionally the high point of a Malay wedding — were the bride’s father, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, and Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
The ceremony in the throne room of the Grand Palace was also attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
– ‘Respect each other’ –
Afterwards, the newlyweds made their first public appearance as man and wife on the palace steps, smiling and waving to around 1,200 reception guests assembled in the garden.
Richard Chong, a 30-year-old marketing executive from Singapore and friend of Dennis who was a wedding guest, said that he was going to wish the couple happiness.
“My message to the couple when I meet them is ‘Marriage is about taking care of each other. They must respect and love each other’,” he said.
Hundreds of well-wishers, consisting mostly of families and elderly couples, gathered in a square in Johor Bahru to watch the “sitting-in-state” live on two big screens, as police cars sped by ferrying VIPs to the reception.
“We are happy for the princess, she has found a man in her life,” housewife Yati Pandrang told AFP.
“May Allah shower the couple with health and happiness.”
The Dutchman, who now works for a property development company in Johor, was born Dennis Verbaas and adopted a Muslim name when he converted to Islam in 2015. He proposed to Tunku Aminah in December last year.
Johor’s royal family is rich and powerful and possesses its own private army — the only state to have one.
Malaysia has a unique arrangement in which the throne of the Muslim-majority country changes hands every five years between the rulers of the nine states which are still headed by Islamic royalty.
The current king is Sultan Muhammad V, from the conservative Islamic northern state of Kelantan, who steps down in 2021.
But Dennis Muhammad is unlikely ever to assume the role since the rulers choose among themselves who the next king will be.