LALAU PENDIAU (GENERAL ETIQUETTE)
After his marriage, a man is taught by his father and grandfather to respect his wife more than anyone else. He must also respect her parents, brothers, sisters and other close relatives, as he does his own kinsmen. He should never cast suspicion on his wife of misconduct with other men, unless he can prove it properly, and not just because he has heard it as rumors.
As a married man he should now work harder than when he was a bachelor. In order to please his wife and her family he should be diligent in providing food by hunting and fishing. If he fails to do these things, he will disappoint his wife and the other members of her family. It is a man’s duty to fetch firewood for cooking food; therefore, he must not let the frame above the hearth (para) become empty of dried firewood.
If a man accompanies his wife to live in her parent’s house, he must always be attentive to his parents-in-law and other members of his wife’s family. If he brings back anything such as meat or fish from the field, he should hand it to his wife, so that she may know that he has done his work well that day.
In order to be a good husband he should never show his bad temper to his wife and family. If he does, he is considered by the people to be an ill-bred man. If he wants to remove his wife from her family in order to live elsewhere, he must do it through mutual understanding, and not through domestic quarrels and anger. If he feels that he would like to join a voyage or trading venture he must inform his wife and her family. If the latter agrees, then he can go with their blessing.
a. Maia makai (Meal times)
When one is taking food it is bad manners for anyone who is sitting nearby to blow his or her nose or spit saliva. It is equally bad manners to do this while somebody else is taking food in a family room nearby. Anyone who behaves this way is said to be an ill-mannered man.
b. Mansa Moa (Passing in other people’s presence)
It is customary for an Iban, if he must walk in front of someone, especially an elderly person, to show his respect with a traditional saying of “excuse me, may I walk in front of you,” with his hands folded to show his way. Anyone who does not do this while walking in front of other people is said to be a man of no manners.
c. Basa enggau temuai (Respect towards visitors or strangers)
Every man wants other people to respect him. If he wants to be respected, then first of all he too must respect other people. And in order to gain respect from others, he should work with diligence and stead-fastness, until he successfully gets all he wants. He should also be just in dealing with people, so that the latter can put their full trust in him. These are the teachings of Iban parents to their children.
If a family is visited by a stranger, they must speak to him and give him food and drink if he arrives at meal time. If he comes at night he should be given shelter and food so that he may not be hungry while staying under the family’s roof. Even the dogs and chicken brought by the stranger is fed accordingly. Ibans of all generation believe that by showing kindness to strangers and animals, the unseen one will be kind to them also.