Thursday, September 19, 2013

Iban Miring Ceremony to Appease Spirit & Ngajat Dance | Sarawak

Headhunter, longhouse and animism is synonym to Iban tribe.

Iban, also known as Sea Dayak were the original inhabitants of Borneo. Famous for their longhouse or rumah panjai, it is said that they were built to last for 15 years or more back in the olden days, this is until their land is fully harvested and exhausted. They will then relocate and settle at a fresh land to start the process all over again. Now, most Ibans are living a modern life nearer to the city with better economic and social connection, leaving the nomadic life they once had.

Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia (KCC1M) participants were fortunate to be given the privilege to visit Bawang Assan Longhouse and Home Stay located just 40 minutes from Sibu town. Here we witnessed a Miring ceremony where spirits were appease in a ritual conducted by the elders to ensure a smooth flowing event.

The families or houses can go up to more than hundred per long house and the head of the family name will be hung at the door of their respective unit. We were greeted at the Ruai area, basically the open verandah that runs the length of the long house, it is also the place where the longhouse communities conduct their daily activities.

The first house's main pillar is made from kayu belian or Borneo ironwood, a rare strong timber tree native to Borneo.

A warm welcome by the Iban ladies playing their traditional instruments as we entered the longhouse, us #KCC1M participants were greeted with tuak drink or rice wine made from fermented glutinous rice and yeast, while the Muslim politely decline the drink, the non-Muslin tasted this local produce.

Old ladies playing gong, engkeromong and bebendai.

Miring ceremony is normally performed during the Gawai Dayak or Iban Harvest Festival, however nowadays it is also being performed to welcome important guests. Items use in a miring ceremony are anchovies, sticky rice, tuak, rendai (puffed rice or pop rice), eggs, daun apong (tobacco leaf/wrapper), betel nut set and etc.

Five of the KCC1M members were invited to participate in this sacred ceremony, they were guided and explained at each step. Each item and act symbolizes a meaning, an act to receive blessings from the spirit.

Tuak or rice wine in small cup are known as telaga.

Prayer will be led by the elder to seek blessing from Sengalang Buron, Raja Menjaya & Ini Inda, Anda Mara and etc. Below is a short video/keek of the prayer blessing at Miring ceremony.

Miring ceremony.

Medias filming the whole process that lasted approximately 7-10 mins.

Miring completed!

Later, decked in traditional costumes they entertained us with cultural performance; the popular Ngajat Dance. I was made to understand that the male will dance as if he is walking in a jungle with his hands and arms swinging forward and backward in soft movements, bending to avoid the branches or looking up at the sky and birds. While the female dancer move in a more delicate manner as if they were at the farm harvesting.

A ngajat dance ends it by dancing and circling the ranyai tree or tree of life (made from nipah palm tree bearing gifts hanging from its 'branches'), we were asked to pick a gift, and once the ranyai tree falls it symbolizes a fruitful harvest.

An enlightening experience for us Kembara Cuti-Cuti 1Malaysia participants.

A #KCC1M - #Sarawak Media Fam Trip in collaboration with #GayaTravel.


Anonymous said...

It was really an experience to watch the ceremony live kan? Now i know the symbolic of the dance movement for the male and female dancers.

Farikica said...

Wow.. what an unforgettable experience...did u try the ngajat dance..?

Lily Riani said...


Exactly, once you know what it means. Its kina beautiful. They're very close to nature.


No... Shy hihihihi... And vusy taking photos.

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