Reviving the forgotten Kayan celebration of Do Ledoh

Lato Juman is the chief of Long Amo in Belaga.

Emalisa Telun Domian

The girls practising the ‘ngajat’ for the Do Ledoh celebration.

The men practising the ‘ngayo’.

A man preparing decorations at Long Amo.

BINTULU: The Kayan people of Long Amo, Belaga are reviving their forgotten culture through the celebration of Do Ledoh this June 14-16.

The Maren Uma, or longhouse chief, Lato Juman, 85, said the Do Ledoh is a celebration to give thanks to Doh Tenangan, a Kayan goddess, for a good harvest.

Usually celebrated in April after farmers finished harvesting paddy, the celebration was slowly forgotten over the years.

Lato shared: “There was a meeting among Kayan longhouse chiefs in Belaga in 1989. One of the head chiefs said there is no need to celebrate Do Ledoh since there is the Gawai celebration on June 1.”

According to Lato, there was a huge quarrel among the longhouse chiefs regarding the issue.

“Somehow, many years after that, we hardly celebrate Do Ledoh especially for those who have embraced Christianity,” he said when BAT 7 visited Long Amo on Saturday night.

He added the Kayan community then approached Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang a couple years ago wanting to revive the celebration on a big scale.

The meeting was fruitful and Do Ledoh was celebrated in several longhouses last year.

“This year is the first time we are celebrating Do Ledoh in Belaga town area instead of celebrating it at Sungai Asap Resettlement like last year,” he said.

“It will be a grand celebration here as all the longhouses, and even the Malay and Chinese communities, will come to celebrate with us.”

More than 20 communities will be coming for Do Ledoh, including Uma Nyaving Long Mejawah, Uma Aging Long Daah, Uma Aging Baleng Avoon, Kampung Melayu Belaga and Punan Bah.

Some of the cultural traditions that will be performed are the ‘ngayo’ (a warrior dance performed after a headhunting trip), ‘ngajat’ (traditional dance) and ‘parap’ (traditional chant).

Other fun activities are beading and a fishing competition and a contest to separate the paddy from the husk.

Lato said, “Through this celebration, we hope we can teach our young generation some of the traditions so that they can pass it on.

“We set up a few committees and each has different tasks to do. Some are assigned to go to the jungle to harvest wood while some stay here to do the decoration,” he said, adding the people of

Long Amo have been preparing for the celebration for about a month.

About 100kg of rice and 100kg  of glutinous rice will be prepared, while three pigs are to be slaughtered for food. The preparation involves not only the adults but also the youths.

Emalisa Telun Domian, 20, will lead a group of five teenage girls to perform a traditional dance during the celebration.

“We have been practising our dance for about four weeks,” she said, while revealing she was taught how to ‘ngajat’ since young by her mother.

“I’m excited to see how the whole celebration turns out after all this preparation,” she added.

Liwan who is also Assistant Minister of Water Supply and Hulu Rajang MP Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong are expected to grace the closing of the event on June 16.

 

 

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