Gawai Melah Pinang

Gawai Dayak 2007 Melah Pinang

The Nadai Name Gawai Dayak 2007 post continues with my brother's wedding longhouse style. This year's Gawai is special in a way as its also going to feature, my brother, Darren's wedding - again! Wait! Reader's may ask....did Darren not have his wedding last year? Yes, it was in my blog for June 2006, but this is how weddings are celebrated in Sarawak - at least amongst the Ibans. This is especially true if the couples are from different areas, say one if from Sibu and another from Miri, but not necessarily in that order. Sometimes both sides of the family want to provide the opportunity for their respective village to celebrate the marriage. So one has to be done at the ladies's village first (sometimes known as Ngambi Indu in Iban). But then again there are many combinations. In my brother's case, we had a 'party' in Rumah Bali, Niah (my sister in law's village) in June last year, another wedding reception was held at Beijing Hotel in Sibu on December 2006 and finally this Gawai 2007, at our longhouse.

The deco setting for the 'melah pinang' ceremony - all systems go. The family and longhouse folks chip in to assist in making the preparations

When the bride's family arrived (from Niah) by express boat, a welcome ceremony and dance was held for the guests.

As usual it means welcome drinks, the first of many (many, many, many) more to come

Sacrificial animal is offered to the arriving guest

Then the guests are led along the whole length of the longhouse where each door will again offer welcome drinks - the whole 47 doors - yea more drinks!

After that there was a miring ceremony whereby the elders from both sides will sit down to perform the blessing (and more drinks).

The wedding couple - Mr. & Mrs. Darren Douglas Jerukan

After that there is much fun and games - amidst more drinks. The exchange of gifts between families was the fun part. The aim is to wrap up these gifts as difficult as you can. Both sides will try to open them as quickly as they can, as if its a race

The visiting guests will of course always be at a disadvantage if they do not bring the right tools. Here they discovered that they needed a plier to open the gift

After all that, there will be the blessing ceremony for the couple whereby both of them have to sit on the tawak (a musical instrument that's similiar to a drum)

Ngajat ngerebah ke ranyai - dancing around the ranyai. The celebrants will dance around the ranyai. Items hanging on the ranyai includes foodstuffs and gifts. The dancer ends his or her dance by picking one of the items hung at the branches with the parang (sword). Sometimes the celebrants will be given a glass of tuak before the dance and of course after the dance

The wedding or melah pinang ceremony, was coincidently held during Gawai Eve which meant that everyone had the chance to wish everyone Happy Gawai 2007 and there will be toast the Ai Pengayu (drink of longevity) - its a drink you would not want to miss

Gawai does not mean drinking all night long - it also means Merry making and dancing all night long

So after all those unlimited volume of *hic* tuak and liquor swam in my system, its quite hard to stay up and *hic* ....well, I knocked off at around 4 am, waking up occassionally to drinks who drpped by our ruai (room). When I woke up at around 5 am in the morning there was no more ranyai. It has been chopped up into pieces and the items that were hanging on the ranyai are also gone. Everyone was prepared for breakfast by then.

How To Say You Don't Want To Drink on Gawai

Here is a life saving tip for most longhouse visitors who do not want to suffer from a hangover during Gawai. Its in the art of diplomacy when one is being offered 'Ai Gawai' or Gawai drinks which is sometimes in the form of rice wine or 'tuak'.

When a person offers you a drink, you gently touch the glass (preferably before anything is poured in it) or the bottle and say, 'Enda Biasa' or 'Tidak Biasa'. This is the polite way of saying that you do not want to drink. When you say 'Enda Biasa' or 'Tidak Biasa' they will either pass you or just give just a little bit only. My friend Blueheeler learnt that the hard way. I told him the sequence and pronounciation in saying it is very critical. I had coached him how to say that whenever he is offered a drink as I was also not sure whether I will survive the whole night through.

Smile and say 'Enda Biasa' or 'Tidak biasa' which means, I am not used to it, but you may sip a bit if you wish. Don't say I did not warn you.

I repeat, it is important to rehearse the sequence as you go from room to room of the 47 door longhouse like mine. The wrong way of doing it of course is to take the glass of tuak, take a sip and say 'Enda Bisa' or 'Tidak Bisa' which was the way Danny aka Blueheeler did. You see, you have to pronounce the word correctly. Its important to say it right because the way you say it can mean two different things. Enda Bisa is an Indonesian resemblance of Enda Biasa in Malaysia, but in Iban it really means 'No Kick At All'. Now the Ibans take pride in the way they make their festive drinks and they buy the best liquor for their guests during Gawai. So try saying Enda Bisa to them and you will have an endless stream of drinks of various brands poured for you.

Oooo my head....Danny learns what Enda Biasa and Enda Bisa means two different things....hehehe

However, I have to say, Danny adapted quite well to the way we celebrate Gawai Dayak in Sarawak. The best part he discovered that tuak was also served in the morning, the first thing given to him when he woke up. Yummy!

The Nimang

Another thing that one must not miss during Gawai is the famous 'nimang' ceremony. This is a form of a 'folk song' by the Tuai Nimang or the one who leads in a traditional song. He is accompanied by another two 'nimang' duet buddies who will give some backup vocals. That's the way I see it. The challehnge of course is that he has to 'sing' the whole length of the longhouse - to and fro, the whole night (that's about 12 hours straight) and as he passes each door, he will sometimes be offered drinks again. Anyone who can tell me what his lyrics meant, please do.

Another Gawai is gone, so I 'll see you all for the next Gawai 2008! And if you love hearing to the Timang tune try going to this River song link. Someone made a YouTube post with the pantun. Quite soothing in a way as I remember that I slept to tunes of these similiar nature when I grew up in the longhouse as a kid. Takes time to get used to it. Wait for my upcoming post on the closure of Gawai. More drinks?

Comments said…
Nice post, reminds me of the gawai days here. BTW, at the last picture the chicks are pretty. Yum! :P
pat said… amai kitak gawai melah pinang :) hehehe...
why do you always get to go for so many parties and feast? I am envious!