Wedding bells the traditional way

Lyna Mohammad

Each ethnic tribe in Brunei Darussalam has it’s own unique and interesting traditions and culture. A wedding ceremony is a good way to tell one tribe from another.

For the Dusun, there are several stages to conduct a traditional wedding. After getting the blessings from the elderly, the groom’s family will visit the bride for a wedding proposal. Once an agreement has been made, they will set the date.

The groom’s family must fulfill all the requests made by the bride’s family before the wedding ceremony except for three cash items – belanja angus, belanja dapur and berian.

Once the wedding date has been set, the family will use semayoh, an object made from bamboo which will be chopped everyday as a reminder leading to the big day. On the wedding day, the groom will travel with his family to the bride’s house.

If the groom lives quite a distance from the bride’s house, the groom’s entourage will leave earlier to be able to reach the destination on time. They may make a stop at a relative’s house to refresh before continuing their journey.

When the groom is about to arrive at the bride’s house, the entourage will hit the canang (gong)and play the violin to announce the arrival of the groom and his entourage.

The groom places the wedding ring on the bride’s finger. PHOTOS: MUIZ MATDANI
During the ‘nyagu atis’ ceremony
The groom performs the ‘Pusing Naga’ before he enters the bride’s house

Walking towards the compound of the house, the groom will be accompanied by an elder known as pengapit (guardian) who carries a spear with him.

He is deemed a respected member of the family whose duty is to protect the groom. Meanwhile, there is also a woman carrying a tekiding (woven basket) with a bronze cover containing three pairs of clothes and four pairs of pants or sarongs.

Once the groom and his entourage arrive, a representative will inform the bride’s father and ask if their presence is welcome.

Upon reaching an agreement, the groom will be sheltered under an umbrella and asked to walk in three circles known as pusing naga.

The arrival of the groom’s entourage is welcomed by the bride’s family with a Gulingtangan performance.

A meminta berian ceremony will take place once the entourage has entered the house and the items carried by the adult woman are presented to the bride’s representative, along with the remaining three items requested. Only after that can the bersanding ceremony take place.

During the bersanding, the bride and groom will be seated on a tawak. Both the bride and groom are donned in black ceremonial attire. The guardians of the groom and bride are seated next to them to proceed with the final ceremony, which is the adat basuh kaki or nyagu atis.

Similar to the Tutong people’s tradition, the nyagu atis uses traditional utensils, gayung (to scoop the water) made from coconut and ipang (a container for the water).

The wedding dais are decorated with traditional music equipment and cloths with three colours (black, white and red).

Both the bride and groom will take off their right shoes and the bride will place her foot on the batu pengasah (a stone used for sharpening metal items) and the groom placing his foot on top of the bride’s.

The groom’s family will begin the ceremony by pouring water over their feet and the bride will be presented with either money or jewellery as a gift.

At the completion of this ceremony, the firing of three, five or seven shots of a canon will take place and those present will be invited to enjoy a feast to mark the occassion.

The ceremony officially will conclude three or seven days later during which the groom will take his bride and return to his house and the bride’s family will send them off along with gifts.