SIBU: Sellers of ‘miring’ items (ritual offerings) at the Sibu Central Market will be as busy as a bee during this time of the year, with Gawai Dayak just days away.
One of them is Umpo Tebal, 60, who hails from Kapit and has been living in Kampung Sentosa here over the last two decades.
“The young and old alike buy the items to save time preparing for the festival. Some prefer to buy because they do not know how to make them by themselves.
“Furthermore, some of the materials used are hard to find nowadays,” she told The Borneo Post when met at her stall yesterday.
She said the items used for ‘miring’ include chicken eggs, ‘setupat’ (small woven ‘biru’ leaf packets), ‘rendai’ (rice pops), ‘tumpi’ (flat rice cakes) ‘sungki’ (folded small leaf packets), glutinous rice, betel nut, betel vine, ‘kapu’ (lime), tobacco, nipah palm leaves and rice wine.
Umpo said supply of materials like ‘biru’ leaves (species of palm tree), which are only found deep in the jungle, had been getting scarce due to land clearing activities.
Another seller, Sudan Gerinau, 53, said her customers would usually buy the items for ‘leka piring 8’, which is the most common type of offering used during ceremonies.
“Other than ‘piring 8’, there are ‘piring’ 3, 5, 7 and 9. ‘Leka piring’ is the number of each item presented in the offering. For example, for ‘piring 8’, we would use eight eggs, eight ‘setupat’, eight ‘tumpi’ and eight ‘sungki’.
“Each piring has different meaning. In details, ‘piring 3’ is for apologies or economy, ‘piring 5’ is for requests or blessing for safe journey, ‘piring 7’ is for festivals or bravery, ‘piring 8’ for inclusive offering and ‘piring 9’ for others and any leftover offering items are placed together,” she explained.
She said for the Ibans, offering is made to ‘petara’ (god) to thank him for his blessings and help, to seek blessing, good fortune and health, to make a wish as well as to seek forgiveness and protection.
At Umpo’s and Sudan’s stalls, the items are sold between RM1 and RM3 per set.
Meanwhile, shoppers had started flocking this town to buy necessary items for the festival.
Shoppers can find a variety of jungle produce at the ‘Pasar Tamu’ (farmers produce) section of the market which has some 300 Bumiputera traders.
They include ‘terung Dayak’, wild fern, palm shoots, bamboo shoots and other wild vegetables as well as ‘ruas’ (bamboo) for cooking ‘pansuh’.
The central market here, which houses about 1,400 local traders of multi races, is one of the largest indoor markets in the country.