Adat ngayap and nguai

Thursday, February 19, 2009
When a Boy likes a Girl – the Ibans way
Posted by purpLe.GirL at 3:52 AM

When a boy likes a girl, in traditional Iban culture, the boy will ngayap the girl. Ngayap is a form of courting the girl and it is done during the night. The purpose of ngayap is to give the chance to the boy and girl to know each other better and to express their feelings which are usually not decent when to do during the day in the eyes of public.

What happen during ngayap is that the boy will creep to the side of curtain of the girl’s room and awakes her. Then, the girl will come out and meet the boy. Both of them might stay until close to dawn if the girl likes the boy too. There will be conversations and whether there is any sexual relationship, it will depend on the girl.

In Adat Iban, the boy is not allowed to ngayap continously, if it happens, the parents of the girl can bring the matter to the Tuai Rumah (leader of the longhouse) and the boy will be fined.

And ngayap also only allowed to Ibans, if any other ethnics ngayap, the person is subjected to be fined under Adat Iban. Like wise, the Ibans should not introduce ngayap to other ethics as they will be fined also.

However, in this modern era, ngayap has lost its importance. Nowadays, flirting or courting happens during wedding functions, parties, gawai festival, social instituitions etc.

But ngayap tradition is still well-known among Ibans and many Iban songs include the story of ngayap in the lyrics.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ngayap Settled, now who will Nguai?

Posted by purpLe.GirL at 1:37 AM

Yup, i told u that ngayap is an traditional Iban flirting which we Ibans don’t practice anymore (as far as i know…). But another adat is adat Nguai which we still practice until this very day (but not as strict as how it used to be practiced before…). What is nguai? Nguai is actually an agreement between a man’s family and a woman’s family before that man and woman want to get married.. erm…curious? Please enjoy the short story below to understand more about nguai… you may need to prepare a tissue paper, because it a tragic love story… who knows u might cry 😛 friends, do enjoy…

~ Lemiah and Assan ~

In the ancient days, the Ibans were very particular about their daughters and sons going to marry. This was because nguai was a very important issue in the social and economic system of the Iban people.
Nguai is a practice to decide whether the woman should stay with her own family or not after the marriage. Should an Iban family has only a daughter, her intended husband and his family should agree to let hin live with the girl’s family. His social status would then be of a son-in-law who becomes a part of the family – physically, socially and economically. If his family did not agree with the terms and conditions, the mariage will not take place and the girl’s family will have to find another suitor. However, if the man is the only son in the family, then his family sets the rule. The marriage would not take place if the girl’s family did not agree with his rules.

There is a folktale pertaining to the tradition which has passed down in Ulu Skrang. Lemiah, a fair Iban maiden, came from a good family who owned a lot of jars, padi fields, silver ornaments and brassware. They were well-known for their generousity. She was an only child and it brought a great deal of sadness to the family as they had to be on a look out for a son-in-law who could stay with them. From a very early age, Lemiah demonstrated her intelligence and friendliness. She had made friends with all the children in the long house, particularly, a good boy named Assan who had a little limp. All the children helped in the padi fields belonging to their own family. Both Lemiah and Assan were the best little workers in the padi fields and everyone admired them for their speed and diligence.

Soon, it was time for Lemiah’s parents to decide with whom Lemiah should be married to. A young man from another long house was selected and the family and kinfolks were over the moon. There could not have been a better choice. Lemiah, however, was disappointed that Assan was not the chosen one. Her famiy thought Assan was not suitable for her. Worst of all, he could not leave his house to live with her family as he too was the only child.

Assan was sad when he heard that Lemiah was to marry someone else and went into the jungle to hunt. After many days of travelling, he was weakened by his sorrow. However, his guardian spirit came to his aid in the form of a hornbill. The hornbill understood his good intentions and deep love for Lemiah. So he told Assan to ask Lemiah to follow him to the waterfall next to the long house on the next full moon before she was to be married. Assan was not sure what would be the outcome, but he believed in his guardian spirit and did as he was told. On the night of the full moon, Lemiah left the long house only too willingly to follow Assan.

However, just as they reached the waterfall, the gongs in the long house were sounded and the villagers came after them. They had broken the customs and Lemiah had broken her marriage vows. The anger of the families permeated the whole forest and caused the leaves to tremble. The sound of the gongs echoued through the hills. Lemiah and Assan were trapped as they could not cross the waterfall. At last, they jumped into the water. The villagers were shocked by this desperate act and returned home empty handed. Lemiah’s parents were heartbroken for they had lost their only child. Assan’s family too was saddened and they took the blame for causing this shame. They had to pay their fines and also had to move out from the long house. Such was the punishment dealt out by the headman.

~The end~

What about me? Will I nguai to my future husband if i get married? Guess i will.. mind you, i am the only woman in my family, but i will nguai because i have promised this to someone… It is a sacrifice i have to do.
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Labels: adat iban, love, man, marriage, ngayap, nguai, woman

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