This is a back post. I will be posting as where and when there is an available Internet connection.
History aside, my own family is part of this long awaited event. I have not got the chance to go back to the longhouse for two years for Gawai Celebrations as my baby that time was too young to be exposed to the conditions there. My longhouse does not have any SESCO electric supply or treated water(we still rely on gravity feed for water and generator sets for electricity). Furthermore it is beyond any CELCOM, DiGi or Maxis coverage, except for a '011' owned by the village towkay there. So if any complications should arise, it would be very risky for a young lady of her age who is used to living in the city. Now that she is three years old I am ready to let her enjoy the Gawai at the longhouse with her cousins. Furthermore the threat of the Hands, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD) is still there.
Our Gawai celebration is set to be a grand one. Our new longhouse is almost completed, and that was the reason for the whole family to go back. Though its about 80% complete (minus the 'tanju') or verandah of a typical longhouse, the other structures are all in place. It means the 'pangkong tiang' ceremony will be slightly delayed but it does not mean we will delay the 'Partying'. Our longhouse is a Barisan stronghold for most of the 40 years it still lacks the modern amenities and facilities which the town folks or urban longhouses enjoy. Thus without the direct road linkage we had to take a one hour bus ride from my parents house in Sibu to Samaram along the Nibong Tada Road (now opposition area with YB Gabriel Adit winning the 9th State Election here). Arriving in Samaram we would usually use a longboat, but owing to size of our group we had to use an express boat. So here is our journey mostly in pictures:
Samaram is becoming a busy landing point for those in transit from Sibu to the longhouses in proximity. Since ours is just about 40 minutes away by boat ride, we prefer to use Samaram because it is cheaper.
The longboats from the longhouses - picking up and sending relatives
This Express Boat is our ride
Its quite cosy inside provided its not crowded and no one brings any animals (for the purpose of selling in the market or bringing back to the longhouse)
The Miring Ceremony is set to start - though most modern longhouses have done away with this, we still practice it at our longhouse as we believe this is something we shoud not discard. My (extremely religous) friends have constantly debated with me on why there should be a need to stick to this kind of traditional offering since most of us in the longhouses are Christians. They insist that this should be discarded. I constantly remind myself that I will get them to read the 'Da Vinci Code' for their next birthday.
The bride and groom in traditional costume
The 'Melah Pinang' Ceremony (Wedding Ceremony) of Diane and Ignatius. That Bottle of Red Label Johnny Walker looks quite inviting.
The couple sitting on the 'gong' while being blessed with a white 'chicken'. Before my extreme friends start blabbering about this again, I do wish there would be a sequel or a second book on The 'Da Vinci Code'.
After 40 plus glasses of 'tuaks' and some sip of Johnny Walker and God knows what else was served, I did not manage to last the night of Dancing till Dawn (Joget Sampai Pagi). I went back and try to sleep the headache away. I guess my daughter also took the time to relax from the long journey.
I guess this is just a warming up session for the days are to come ahead. The Gawai Eve dinner at our longhouse will be followed by a journey back to Sibu and then to Niah, by road, which is about six hours away to attend my brother's wedding there. The most challenging task is to stay sober on the road. Happy Gawai people - more to come soon!