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Many of them loved music and brought with them their musical instruments which they played during their leisure moments. Some time in the early years of the 19th Century, a Baba, Mr Seet Eng San, of Malacca organised his Indonesian servants into a band to play at weddings and other happy occasions. The serunee music was then arranged so that certain tunes were played for certain ceremonies. In the early days when the serunee band was first formed, the musicians used to sit cross-legged on the floor on mats as the Balinese musicians still do.

When the pair of candles taken from the tray was lighted, the elders of both families paid their respects with lighted joss-sticks first to the gods and after that to the ancestors. Refreshments would then be served and after an acceptable interval, the young man’s delegation would take their leave. The young couple was now officially betrothed. This, however, did not mean that the beau could take his girl out when he pleased. He was not even then allowed to visit her. It was only from the 1930s onwards that young men visited their fiancées, and that too only about once a week under the watchful eye of a chaperone.

Some considered a successful match a meritorious deed, for it was believed that if one could bring three couples together in marriage, one was assured a place in Heaven. 22 Besides this, the Nyonya matchmaker was an incurable romantic. However, there have been tales of unscrupulous matchmakers who, on being bribed by a family with an old spinster with some defects or a young man who was similarly handicapped, would go to great length to deceive the other party by all sorts of trickery. Happily, in such cases, the matchmaker, having been exposed, would naturally lose the confidence of families with eligible children.

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