Peak Day – Gawai Kelingkang
Nyambut ‘Antu Pala’ ceremony
21st November (Sunday) was the peak day of the Gawai Kelingkang. The heavy rain since dawn that drizzled till morning did not damper the spirits of the participants to proceed with the Kelingkang (warriors) procession6. The longhouse folks and Gawai participants were dressed up in their native attires walked out of the longhouse to the ground to welcoming the return of their brave warriors – Bujang Kelingkang. At 9:00 a.m., about 30 ‘Bujang Kelingkang’7 with traditional regalia gathered at a nearby Sungai Bawang bridge. From there the Kelingkang procession started. They marched toward the longhouse with the shouts of victory from the Bujang Kelingkang accompanied with the beating of gongs. The triumphant warriors, with their two captured heads or ‘Antu Pala’8 (symbolised by two coconuts carried in a rattan woven holder) marched towards the Rumah Lipu longhouse. The warriors also carrying along with them the official Gawai Kelingkang flag together with the host community flag.
As the Kelingkang procession approached the compound of the longhouse, a young warrior performed the ‘ngajat’9 followed by two gentlewomen with the ‘pua kumbu’10 to receive the enemies’ head. The war leader of the Kelingkang then placed the two ‘antu pala’ inside the pua kumbu. Amidst the shouts of victory and the sounds of tabuh, the two women lead the procession to proceed towards the ‘tanju’11 in front of the longhouse while swaying the pua kumbu back and forth chanting to ask for protection from the spirits of the captured heads.
Before the Kelingkang procession got into the ritual platform, a pig was speared for the offering to the spirits of their ancestors. Then the two women continued swaying the captured heads around the ‘tersang’12 followed by the warriors. After seven revolutions, the captured heads were placed in the tersang while the weapons and charms of all the warriors were hung around it. Then all the warriors sat down around the tersang as 4 Dayak elders perform the ‘miring’13 ceremony. The 4 elders called their ancestors for strength and guidance as offering were placed in bamboo woven containers. They gave thanks and asked for protection from the spirits and also to cleanse their own spirits. They also made special offerings to legendary ‘Keling’14, the Iban’s bravest warrior spirit. Another miring was made for the participants and guests where they were given a part to taste.
After the miring ceremony, the warriors performed ‘ngajat berayah’15 around the tersang (to the beats of drums and clashing sounds of metal). The throwing of yellow rice and laying curses to all their enemies followed the ngajat berayah. A chicken was then slaughtered, burned over a fire set at the ‘tanju’ and to be eaten on spot. When the chicken was cooked, it was cut into pieces and distributed amongst the crowd to strengthen their bravery.
Once all the rituals were completed, the Gawai Kelingkang flag was raised above the tanju with acclamation from the warriors, guests and the longhouse folks. The ceremony then proceeded with the warriors and all the guests were invited into the longhouse. Before ascending into the longhouse, a pig was jointly slaughtered by the representatives of NGOs led by Mr. Harrison Ngau, Director of Legal & Human Rights Programme of BRIMAS, at the foot of the stairs leading up to the longhouse. An elder chanted to the spirits for good omen to the longhouse folks and also to their guests.
Once they step into the longhouse, they are now called the pengabang gawai (gawai guests) and were greeted by maidens with tuak. This followed by a ‘ngalu ka pengabang’16 procession along the ‘ruai’17 of the longhouse. This procession took from one end of the longhouse to the next and all this time traditional music was played and the guests were greeted by the warm hospitality of the longhouse folks and served with tuak. The children in their traditional dress joined in and led the procession by performing the ngajat. The procession ended with everyone gathered at the ruai of the longhouse Chief for a ‘Miring Pengabang’ ceremony. All the representatives of IPOs, NGOs and international delegates were asked by longhouse elders to participate by putting varieties of items into different ‘piring’18 with guidance and supervision of Dayak elders. Then, the Miring was performed by the Chief, who informed their ancestors that the longhouse hosted the Gawai Kelingkang and prayed for good omen to the longhouse during the Gawai Kelingkang and also in the future.