28. IN TIME OF SICKNESS:
The first thing which an Iban would do when he is indisposed is to make an offering for his sickness in a small scale ritual. The request to God to cure him in this nature is done in his own private room. He does not usually inform other people in the longhouse of this offering. Should he fail to recover by doing this, he will then proceed to make an offering in a grander scale. This is done at the outermost section of the covered verandah where he will invite the elders in the longhouse whom he asked to make the offering.
He would ask a healer (dukun) to treat him if the offering does not contribute to his recovery. If the dukun does not prove to be effective he would ask a manang (medicine-man) to perform relevant rituals to cure him. If he does not recover even after the manang has performed the appropriate ceremonies, he will either go into seclusion (nampok), or he will hold a festival to invite God make him well again. During this festival, he can request for a bard to sing a song called sugi or renong (traditional songs), or pengap (invocation) for his sickness. This of course depends very much on what is thought to be the most appropriate.
When the sick man happens to have had a dream in which the supernatural asks him to hold a reception at his gallery, he would do so together with his longhouse mates. Should be, however, dream of being directed to hold a rite at the open platform (tanju), he will hold a function known as the “Midday Festival”, because it ends at midday (Gawai Sandau Hari) or Gawai Mata (which literally means “incomplete festival”). The reason why this occasion is termed as Gawai Mata is because the people go out once only to the open platform. This will lead to another festival, the Gawai Sakit (a grand festival or ritual that is held to seek god’s help to cure a very sick person).