Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Kenyah legacy – Naming Ceremony in Miri

A KENYAH naming ceremony or Ti Adet Ngaran Kenyah took place recently in Miri — probably the first by a Kenyah family outside of the enclave of Long San in the Baram.

Relatives and friends all over Sarawak and from other parts of the country and as far as the United Kingdom, gathered to celebrate the auspicious occasion at a hotel in the Resort City.

The naming ceremony was organised by Cecelia Selalang Lian for her grandsons, Joseph and Ethan Kucper, now living in London.

She said she was  happy to do it for them to carry on the legacy of her people.

A beaming elderly man told thesundaypost that to the Kenyahs, child naming or pusau anak is an important social occasion.

The old timer was wearing batik shirt and smart trousers and his Kenyah hat was adorned with feathers, symbolising his status. The more the feathers, the higher the status. In fact most of the guests of Kenyah descent, wore their tribal hats.

“These young children have come back to our motherland to be given Kenyah names. We are very happy we can hold the ceremony in Miri. They will be given names selected from the ancestors’. This ceremony is, therefore, very significant for them and their relatives. We are here to share the joy,” he explained.

The master of ceremony and one of the chief organisers was Jeffrey Ngau Lenjau, a Kenyah Lebo Vo, now a PhD candidate from Universiti Sabah.

For a young Kenyah like him, Ti Adet Ngaran Kenyah is a very significant event.

He translated the Kenyah language for guests and also helped explain some of the stages of the elaborate ceremony, not witnessed by most people in their life time.

In the past, a naming ceremony was only held once in 30 or 40 years due to various constraints — time, financial, social and even political.

A Kenyah friend remarked: “It is not an event to be missed. If I am not present for this occasion, I don’t know whether I will ever have another chance to attend one.

“If the ceremony were to be held in Long San, the cost would be higher. Also, few would be able to make it as transport is difficult to arrange. Even if the ceremony were held once in 10 or 20 years, it would still be difficult to meet all the conditions and many would simply have to miss it. I’m glad my relatives have made the effort to hold the ceremony in Miri.”

The ceremony was an eye opener for first-time guests.

One of them told thesundasypost: “The fact that it’s held in Miri makes it very convenient for relatives and friends who cannot travel to the interior of the Baram. I’m glad I can witness the ceremony in Miri as I will not be able to go to Long San so far away. I work in Miri. Nowadays it’s not easy to get leave.”

A church member was happy to note that the ceremony fused traditional and Christian rites.

“The prayers are said in Kenyah and throughout the ceremony, Kenyah traditional music is played together with Christian hymns. Today, all of us feel spiritually strong when we sing our hymns in Kenyah,” he said.

Another guest added: “This hotel — the Telang Usan — is most suitable as it reflects the cultural ambiance of the Kenyahs of Long San. With many family members present here today, I feel as if I’m in a Long San longhouse with all my friends and relatives.

“I feel good too because many have come in our traditional costumes. The music is superb and the walls of the hall are decorated with many Kenyah paintings. If this ceremony is held outside Long San or Miri, the cultural atmosphere will not be the same. This place definitely exudes a traditional feel.”

Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: A Kenyah legacy – Naming Ceremony in Miri