From Roban To Serian, With Love: Thaddeus & Meliza

Tabi basa & greetings everyone. In this post, I’d like to share about Thaddeus “Tompok” & Meliza wedding reception at Kampung Pichin, Serian. 


The wedding reception was done at Kpg Pichin’s Awah Gawai Tun Abdul Razak, which we usually call “Awah Gawai” (awah = ruai, Gawai = festivities of Dayak peoples), since it is simpler and that’s how it is usually being used. Previously, it was common for us to see awah gawai being made from bamboo and traditional palm roof since resources are abundant. But now, due to limited resources, we just use Awah Gawai TAR since it is readily available. Some will use Balǔ Tayung Langui, another nearby hall, but Awah Gawai is special for us. 

By having merry-making or gawai there, we can have that Harvest Festival feel. That is how we make things work here at Pichin. 

For the wedding reception, there were a lot of peoples came from afar, including Rh Plunga Atas, Roban, Sibu, Kpg Krait and from Mukah.


Upon my arrival, I noticed that Tompok is already wearing full set of Iban’s warrior costume, with Meliza right beside him in Ngepan Iban. Both look majestic, as a bride and groom should be. There they were, waiting for the guests to arrive. The food was blessed already by one of the church leaders. So, it was a free and easy moment during dinner.

For the other guests, the food is served at the ruai. Meanwhile, the halal food was served in a separate, air-conditioned room to make the Muslim guests felt welcomed even though this is a Bidayuh village, with almost 100% of its dweller is Roman Catholic. 

The emcee of the night, Mr Patrick Liki quickly introduced me to the beauty queen that graced us with her presence there, Clarissa Rinya, so that I take her photos. For your information, she is the holder of various beauty queen titles as she was actively involved with various Iban beauty pageant throughout the years, and she is still 18 years old, which means she has a lot of opportunities ahead of her. Her father was there too, along with her family. Wish her more successes in her beauty queen career ahead. 


Back to our main storyline, since it was free and easy session, Tompok’s brothers, Brendan “Anai” and Culuk performed some songs to entertain those who attended. Anai is known for his singing capabilties, and he is also an artistic person, hence he was also a lecturer in arts, specialising in portraiture. That Master’s Degree holder also still looking for the one. 


After a while, once the guests have settled down and had their dinner, it is time for the better part of the night. As usual, in any Bidayuh event, it is not complete without “Langgi Pingadap”. “Langgi” is the name of Bidayuh Serian’s dance, from Bukar-Sadong area. “Langgi Pingadap” the dance that Bidayuh perform to welcome the guests.

Following the Langgi Pingadap, it is time for Iban’s Ngajat, to welcome the guests. This “Ngajat” is performed by Clarissa.

Regardless if it’s Bidayuh or Iban, Dayak’s dance never fails to captivate the eye of the audiences. Both dances are inspired by Borneo avian, the source of inspiration for many, and even has a supernatural ties. Mother Nature is great indeed.


Once the dances were completed, it is time for some opening prayer, this time by Mr Joe Lihung, or often called “Amang Ato” by many. The prayer was done in Bidayuh, the prayer that is close to his heart. Prayer is the best done in a language that we are familiar with, lest it felt forced. 


As usual, there would be some speeches from both sides of bride and groom. For Tompok’s side, his uncle represents his father for the speech, Mr Luhin. Meanwhile, for Meliza’s side, her father gave the speech. After that, it was followed by Mr Kennedy representing the church and lastly, Mr Rioi – the village chief. 


By right, the eldest sibling would be married first. In an ideal world, siblings would be married in accordance to their age. However, we are living in reality. As for Anai, he is still looking, but the second gets married first. Therefore, Tompok has to pay his summon, or “ukum” for overtaking his brother. 

Anyway, Anai took it happily, in the form of gold ring that he put at his index finger. Ring finger is reserved for his wedding.


After that “summon-paying session”, it is time for cake-cutting ceremony. This is the time where you can see a lot of excitement. Usually in the form of “champagne-popping”. But what I learned is that champagne is not really poppy, so other carbonated drinks are being used. It usually gave a more dramatic effect.

Then, it is time for a toast, which is rather a simple one. Let’s not waste more time, perhaps that is what they were thinking. 


After that, it is time for special performance by their siblings, cousins and relative. It was basically a long form of dance from one end of the awah gawai to the end, before going back to the wedding dais.

This session was led by Vanessa, Tompok’s sister. It is fun to see these session as it is accompinied by lively Thailand dance music.  


After all of those were settled, the guests flock to both bride and groom to take picture with them. That includes their ’93 batch from both Skendri & Mangon.


Then, the moment that a lot have been waiting for, the karaoke time. I also sang a few songs, Kampung Love and Aram Meh, since it is Bidayuh & Iban wedding. Usually, it is more common for us to find a Bidayuh who can speak Iban. But Iban that can speak Bidayuh is not easy to find. 

The fastest way to learn a new language is to have a strong reason why you should learn it. For example, you want to win someone’s heart. Or their family? Who knows.


I am using this term because a lot of us are familiar with the term “sadong”, “tukang sadong” or “nyadung”, which is an Iban language. But “Bitakuh” is a lesser known term due to the number of Bidayuh Serian speakers.

In this term, “Tukang Nakuh” is Tompok himself, with Meliza by his side throughout the journey. It is a symbolic of giving thanks to the guests that came. For those who didn’t take the drinks, they can politely reject. But some do challenge the Groom to drink once before he drink his own. That’s a guests that came only once in a while. Usually most of the guests understand that they don’t have to force the groom to drink excessively. 

Too much drink is not good, by the way. Moderation is the key.

After Bitakuh, it is time for more free and easy. The wedding emcee mentioned that the event will end at 3am. Lucky for Benen, since the TV is placed on a sturdy frame, no guests will try to knock it down or do a Eddie Guerrero’s frog splash on top of it. 


It was a fun and memorable evening for all who attended. May God bless both Thaaddeus Tompok & Meliza.

Your Tukang Rantek/ Rockstar Emcee,

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