Prime Minister’s Najib Abdul Razak’s son-in-law Daniyar Kessikbayev has clarified that the much criticised “lavish” gifts at his engagement ceremony in 2011 are part of Kazakh tradition.
This comes after former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed there were “16 barrels” of gifts at the engagement ceremony that he attended.
“I want to explain that the gifts were a dowry for Nooryana, and there were 16 boxes, not 16 barrels.
“In Kazakh culture, a prospective husband will give his future bride jewellery, perfume and silk.
“It is part of our tradition and we were proud to share our Kazakh heritage with our new Malaysian family,” Kessikbayev told news portal Free Malaysia Today .
Kessikbayev, a Kazakh national, married Nooryana Najwa Najib in March 2015.
The grand ceremony at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre – one of three held in Malaysia – was much criticised, but it was later revealed that the groom’s family had paid the bill.
Kessikbayev said that with his explanation, he hopes that Mahathir will stop using their engagement or wedding ceremonies for political mileage.
Groom pays a 'ransom' for the bride
“I believe Mahathir is a wise politician, a father and a husband who can judge what should and should not be said,” he is quoted as saying.
According to Kazakh newspaper Ak Zhaik , it is a tradition for a groom to pay a kalym or "ramsom for the bride" to her parents.
Kazakh grooms used to give the bride's family 47 head of cattle, but now they present the bride with a korzun (traditional bag) with 47 "precious things" inside, including rings, necklaces and coins.
Similarly, Malay tradition dictates that a groom gives trays of gifts or hantaran to the bride, consisting of personal items such as jewellery and cosmetics.
The Malay bride will return the trays to the groom, filled with personal items including cologne or shoes.
Mahathir recently criticised Najib’s lavish lifestyle by claiming that Najib’s family prepared “16 barrels” of gifts for his future son-in-law at the engagement ceremony.
He said that even royal weddings were not as lavish as the engagement ceremony he had attended.
“I was surprised - 16 barrels of gifts, carried by two soldiers. Barrels, not trays," he said.
“It wasn’t something small. Lots of things were in there - watches, shoes, shirts, material. (The barrels) passed by me,” said Mahathir who is on a mission to oust Najib from office.
He said this in a video released on a blog.