Congratulations to our youngest brother!! Darren Douglas Jerukan and Alice Clement Bali wedding in St. Michael Church, Batu Niah, Miri.
The wedding couple Mr. & Mrs. Darren Jerukan outside St. Michael Church after the wedding ceremony
This is another backpost: I have to admit groovytuai's comments in my last post hit the nail on the head when he mentioned about post Gawai Blues. I think I am suffering from it and so is my home computer in Kuching. Its not the alcohol that is flowing in the system. Its probably the result of the family gatherings, where I met so many relatives within a short period trying to catch up on important events in their lives, party together with them and finally, when it came to say goodbye, its as if the weeks together never happened. God I missed them. As one of the priests said in his wedding speech, "Significant family gatherings that are of importance in life can be divided into three. First - when one is born into this world and also, Second, when one departs from this world. Family members usually gather to welcome the birth of a new family member and also converge to bid farewell to someone who is no more with them (funerals). The third event where the whole family gathers is when they attend weddings. All this involves the families and friends of the two sides, the bride's and the groom's - it is occassionally accompanied by parties and merry making.
Batu Niah - the place is famous for the Niah Cave. I have Niah a couple of times while driving from Kuching - Bintulu- Miri for holidays and official trips. I never knew that there is in fact a Niah Township somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I am just familiar with the Niah Bazaar, or the two blocks market somewhere along the bus's major route. Pretty wierd as I work in a central government agency, that I barely know about this town. I would attribute this to the lack of publicity that Batu Niah recieves. Maybe its due to the fact that most of the people that seen loitering around in town are mostly tourists who are stopping over while on the way to or returning from Niah Cave. The town has all the basic amenities and infrastructure of a modern town. The food is good and also the small 'Inns' or Hotels are okay. Bearing in mind that there are only two 'hotels' here (we stayed in Niah Cave Inn). Looking at several couples who came along this place also, I do declare that this 45 minutes drive from Miri City is definitely a good hideout for adventurous people.
Batu Niah Town on Sunday looks quite deserted as you will see above. Low traffic volume, friendly people, pretty nice coffee shops for the mee kering buffs, , Streamyx is available here for fixed home lines, no parking coupons, Magnum 4D and also Cash Sweep is available..... It reminds me of a buddy working in Putrajaya.... he stays in Kajang - and complains about the hectic life there plus those hellish traffic jams he has to encounter - not to mention the tolls. If his agency was to set up a small office in Batu Niah, I think he would not mind being transfered here.
The Wedding Reception: June 3rd 2006
After the church ceremony, we had to prepare for the wedding reception dinner on the evening of the 3rd June 2006. Usually in the City or town areas it would be easy to have everything done in one day. Most of my friends wedding I attended verything will be over in one day - The Church Wedding and the Wedding Reception. For my brother's wedding, it had to be done in two days as we were waiting for the remainder of our relatives who are coming all the way from other parts of Sarawak and Sabah. For my family its was a struggle to journey from our longhouse Nanga Beguang Song, Kapit to Sibu by boat and then from Sibu, a six hours journey by road to Batu Niah. Why I say struggling is that we had not fully recovered from the festive effect of tuak (rice wine) consumption and other forms of liquors. I also had to make sure my old car was in tip top condition.
The bride's house was a 15 minutes drive from Batu Niah Town. When we reached the place, the preparations to welcome guests were well underway.
The bride's family and relatives preparing the the welcoming decorations. Notice that the Barisan Nasional Flags and the SPDP Political Party Flag is also part of the decoration. So no questions asked on the political alignment of this area as I see these flags almost everywhere, even after the elections are over.
Putting up the tents and chairs at the compound of the house
The 'gotong royong' spirit thrives here. Villagers and longhouse folks - mostly relatives will give a helping hand to the owner of the ceremony. Though the water tanks and pipes are available, the water supply can be a major problem in a village like this if there is a dry season.
The final touch to the entrance decorations - the car in the background is not part of the deco.
The recieving party from the bride's family is led by the priest who shall bless the arriving guests. The three maidens in traditional Iban costumes are also part of the welcoming group. One will be able to notice that this is a mix of old and new custom. The kettle on top of the ribbon is not 'holy water' but welcome drinks for the groom's family. Usually its 'tuak'... *hic*.
Penghulu Baling Jenggin leads the groom's group together with my Mum, grandmother and also our Tuai Rumah (in dark glasses).
Welcoming dance leads the groom's family to the house
Tuak drinks line up. Notice that everyone in the welcoming line up has a bottle and glass. Its call a welcome drink (ai temuai) - just to warm you up before the wedding dinner
The stage is all set for the couple
Guests of the bride are mostly multi racial and comprise of nearby neighbours. There is a seperate 'halal' food section for the muslims.
The 'red eye' effect of my camera at work in this picture. I have better photos than this but I like this one :) as I did not manage to capture that giant liquor bottle in the other photos. That one mean giant bottle looks like a potential source for the mother of all Hangovers.
A loving pose for the couple of the evening.
The couple in traditional wear
The couple giving the guests some share of the ceremonial drinks. It can be a glass of Johnny Walker or other 'light' liquor like Chivas Regas. Why I say light is because other forms of 'home made' liquor are also available. Usually these are home made. Called 'langkau' by local name, it can sometimes be used to start a small fire...that's how lethal the langkau is.
No comment here as I share some of the happier moments with 'Diana' who was one of the star performers that night.
The 'joget' or dance sessions involves karaoke singing and traditional jogets. Even the kids are into it as our Tuai Rumah sings out a melody - flowers from fans :)
My missus (in red) and my sis in law (in green) showing how the joget is done
My bro in law (Johnady) has his own version of the 'dance'
During these occassions we also did not forget to showcase the traditional Iban dances. Tunes for traditional music has the hypnotic effect of creating a ngajat mood. The bride's family and groom's family were occassionally invited to dance as part of the 'Ngambu Isan' event. This means that each side will introduce their family members via karaoke or ngajat. Each side showcasing the skills. Here my mum is doing the ngajat indu (lady's traditional dance)
Uncle Edwin doing the warrior's dance
Uncle James Ligadun came all the way from Sabah together with Raj of Curtin University Miri
The traditional band rendering the tunes all night long for the traditional dances
Cousin Ben from Sabah also trying out the 'joget' session though they are more accustomed to the Sumazau Dance.
For those who do not last the night - the drinks and the rigourous party activities of fun and dances, they can end up like this guy above. If any CSI came over to check the cause of this scene, mind you its not the 'mineral water' bottle by his side.
Next Stop: Cousin's Wedding, Sibu
The next blog will be about the return trip to Sibu where we went to attend another cousin's wedding, whew.....then I will round up my Gawai events and touch on the different practices of wedding ceremonies of the Iban community I had witnessed.
Cousin Adeline's Wedding stage