Duit hantaran. If you are a Malay guy, then these two words is bound to make you shudder. And if you are a Malay girl, then you will most probably either have a love or hate relationship with these words.
For those of you who are not aware of what duit hantaran is, it is basically a sum of money that the groom gives to the bride’s parents, pretty much like a dowry. The duit hantaran is purely based on culture, and is not grounded in Islam in any way – meaning that the marriage can still take place without the duit hantaran. Many often confuse the duit hantaran with the mas kahwin – the latter being a necessity to get married in Islam, and is priced at a minimum of S$100.
Problems surrounding the duit hantaran
Today, the discussion pertaining to the duit hantaran can get pretty heated, especially if the bride’s family is asking for a sum that is more than what the groom can afford to give. This often leads to fights between the couple and even the families, and sometimes, the marriage does not take place because of the groom’s inability to offer the ‘asking price’ of this token sum of money. It has even led to unfortunate situations, in which the groom starts the marriage in debts, because he had to loan money from family and friends, and in some cases, even moneylenders.
In the Malay community, there is a sort of unspoken ‘rule’ governing the duit hantaran – the higher the qualification and status of the bride, the higher the duit hantaran should be. This brings about a whole lot of tension, especially if the groom is lower qualified and has a lower paying job than the bride.
I have heard stories from personal friends of mine that this has resulted in unnecessary tensions, as their future spouses are unable to raise the money that their parents are demanding for. Someone I know even had her parents tell her that if the guy is unable to give the amount that they were asking for (which was $12,000), then he is not suitable to marry their daughter. They did eventually ‘negotiated’ (with lots of tears and arguments), and brought down the amount to $10,000.
‘Market rate’ for duit hantaran
Generally, today, the minimum amount that is given for the duit hantaran is $8,000, and even then, it is still considered a paltry sum. The so-called ‘market rate’ for brides with a higher education, say a degree and above, ranges from about $10,000 to $15,000. Of course there are instances where the rate is even higher than that, and in some scenarios, there are grooms who are ready to fork out $20,000.
Different parents have different approaches when it comes to what they do with the duit hantaran. There are some who use it for the wedding expenses, such as the bridal outfits or the cost of the function. And then there are some parents who use it to help start out the couple’s new home by purchasing furniture and other household items for them. I have also heard of some parents who return the money to the newly wedded couple after the wedding ceremony so that they can use it for themselves.
Now, this concept of duit hantaran is one that is highly debatable, especially since it is not grounded in religion. I for one am not for it at all, as I feel that it is just making marriage more difficult and burdening your future husband. However, for the elder folks, this is a highly important aspect as not having duit hantaran is simply fodder for gossips. So for my own marriage, since I was pretty adamant about a monetary transaction, what me, my parents, my future husband and in-laws, agreed on was to have my duit hantaran in the form of gold jewellery, making it a small investment for both my husband’s and my future.
Tips for Grooms:
Let’s face it, the likelihood of you having to present duit hantaran to your potential bride’s family is very high, so it is better to plan ahead for this. It isn’t easy to save such a big sum of money, especially if it is in a short period of time, which is why it is best to start saving as early as possible!
If you have started work, try and set aside a small sum of your salary each month for this purpose. It won’t be easy at the start, but if you slowly work towards it, you will eventually have a substantial amount set aside for your big day!
A word of caution though, do not, under any circumstances, resort to borrowing money from others, especially moneylenders. It is not worth it to burden yourself with heavy debts, and put you and your loved ones at risk, just to fulfill a cultural aspect of your marriage. Please do talk to your future spouse and her family if what they are asking for is beyond your means.
Tips for Brides:
And to our dear sisters, please make things easy for your husband-to-be. If your parents are asking for an amount that you know is beyond what your man can afford, then do try and talk to them and make them understand.
If your duit hantaran is already taking up most of his savings, then do also be practical and don’t go overboard with the gift exchanges. Keep things simple! You have a whole life ahead of you with one another to pamper each other with lavish gifts; so don’t overwhelm yourselves at the start of the marriage just for the sake of showing off to those around you. Remember, these people are not going to be the one taking care of you when the going gets tough – your husband is.
What Singaporean thinks of Duit Hantaran?
We would like to hear your thoughts on duit hantaran. Is it a yay or a nay for you? And what do you think is an acceptable amount for the groom to give? Share with us your thoughts in the comments section below!