Another Tukang Rantek's StoryRavi & Merien’s Love CelebrationGua Longhouse Chalet, Bakam - Miri Division

Tabi basa & greetings everyone. Today I’d like to share about the recent event that I’ve emceed at Gua Longhouse Chalet, Bakam at Miri Division. It is a good place to organise wedding receptions or even engagements in an authentic Dayak Iban style. 

For this wedding reception, I was approached by Miss Lulong while I was doing wedding photography at Grand Palace few months ago, whether I am interested to emcee a wedding for Iban-Indian couple. As usual, I say yes unless I was booked beforehand. Fortunately, I am available on that date.

Life then goes on as usual.

Fast forward to the event day itself, I just prepared myself for my emcee job. As usual, I will check with DJ of the night on overall preparation. Nini was the one on duty. She’s just a 13 year’s old lady, but she can handle things well though I still need to guide her to read the event’s flow.

Before the couple and their entourage arrives, Merien’s family can be seen at the longhouse, busy like a bee, dressing up for entrance, taboh beaters getting warmed up and Peter, the ngajat dancer, is doing rehearsal. 

Around 5.15pm, Ravi & Merien arrived at the venue. Apai Merien (Apai means father in Iban), Mr Tan anak Nyalu went there to greet the group. There were some preparations made on site, especially arranging their traditional costume. Both Merien & Ravi looks dazzling in their Iban traditional costume, prepared by done by Mimi Helmi, including make-up.

I did a short briefing to explain to them what’s going to happen at the longhouse later.

Once everyone is ready, photos taken by Jeffery Manja (official photographer), they make their move to the longhouse, led by Peter dressed as an Iban warrior. 

Upon their arrival, they were greeted by Merien’s relatives, beautifully dressed in ngepan Iban (Iban’s traditional costume). 3 gunshots were fired, to welcome these group. “Tuak”, Dayak’s rice wine was served to them by these tukang sadong. Sadong means “to give alcoholic drinks”. “Tukang” means the person doing it.  

Once all of them arrived inside “ruai”, which is considered communal area inside a longhouse, located outside “bilik”, we proceeded to circle the ruai. However, since it hot and humid, Apai Merien told me to cut it short lest these guests became tired.

As the emcee, it is my duty to give the first welcoming gesture to these peoples. We have a good mixture of peoples be it from KL, Miri, Sri Aman, and also from all around the world – from Sweden, The Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, Australia & Indonesia. 

Apai Merien gave the first speech of the evening. He is happy beyond words to see these peoples came from all around the world to celebrate Ravi & Merien’s big day. Ravi’s father, Mr Speromaniam gave the next speech, echoing what was mentioned by Apai Merien. 

There was a special request by Ravi’s appa, which is to give an opportunity for Ravi’s friend to gave a word or two. It surprises some of his buddies, but it good to hear that all of them are happy to be there. Morten from Sweden is the first one. Everybody laughs when he mentioned that Malaysia is hot. Oh yes, it is hot. It takes some time to get used to it. PJ, our Dutch man, also shared the same view, but his joy outweighs temperature issue. Our “habibi”, Waleed was invited next to give a word or two, followed by Nick from Australia. Dato Sri & Mustakim from KL also were given the opportunity to speak. These brotherhood is something that one must protect in their life.

The event continuous with blessing by Pastor Leon. There was a part that I really like, where he mentioned that before anything else, God created family institution via Adam & Eve. Whatever came next are all men-made. 

After wedding blessing was made, Penghulu Ngadan was given the opportunity to share a word or two, “meri jaku pesan, jaku tangkan enggau jaku lalau”. His speech ends at around the same time Muslims breaks their fast, so I call the event a pause first to give the guests an opportunity to have their dinner. Bon apetit. 

DJ Nini eats first. During that time, I sung a few songs. The first one was Wonderful Tonight, where Dora & Rudi from Indonesia slow-danced to it. What a pleasant surprise! If there was an award of Most Happening Couple of the night, I would give it to them.

After dinner was done, it is time for Ravi & Merien to re-enter the venue, this time using Indian traditional costume. Ravi & Merien walked from end-to-end, whilst being sadong’ed with tuak and guests taking pictures with them. Koi Mil Gaya song can be heard playing in the background.

Once they returned to the stage, it was time for cake cutting ceremony. Merien feeds Ravi’s father & sister, while Ravi feeds Merien’s apai & indai (mother in Iban). Lastly, they feed one another. The same thing was done with drinks. Instead of the normal champaign-popping, they use liquor instead. 

Ravi gave a speech after that. Initially he tried to get Merien to speak, but his plan fails. 

As per Iban’s traditional custom, they have few games planned for the night. The first one is “Muka Bako”. Bako is like a well-sealed bronze, filled with some betelnuts. The first one to open, wins. The loser has to drink.

To officiate the game, I invited Tuan Penghulu to lead the game. I assisted in the game too because he’s having sore throat & can’t speak well. 

Muka Bako is intended to strengthen the bond between bride & groom’s side. Each will send their representative, this time, 3 from each side. It was fun game indeed. There were a lot of excitement in this game. Rudi, one of Ravi’s representative, tired to open, Ravi’s sister, Presana, also intereved to open Bako, including Habibi Waleed. It was tough to open though. Meanwhile, at Merien’s side, her mother & aunties also having tough time to open it, but they have lots of experience doing it. For Muka Bako game, Merien’s team win. But then, there was a part where Tuan Penghulu have to toss the betelnuts, to see whether both halves are facing the opposite side. This is like a redeeming part of the initial loss. However, from that toss, Merien’s team still won. 

Anyway, Ravi’s team took the drinking punishment with style. Yes, Ravi included.

For the second game, Berambu Isan, is a drinking game. For this game, seven peoples are being sent from each side. This time, there were seven contenstants from each side. For Ravi’s team, Dora volunteered first. Presana was there too. PJ initially joins, but after learning about the nature of Berambu Isan, Ryan steps in to replace him. Berambu Isan is a fun drinking game. Since there are seven contestants, there will be seven rounds. Morten jokes that, tell my wife I love her. But he chugs his tuak so quickly, accidentally dropped his bowl and broke it. However, the joy worths it though. Not easy to drink that fast. 

Before we proceed with the third game, it is time for ngajat. Ngajat is Iban’s traditional dance. There were a lot of variations, but for this round, a basic form of ngajat is used. Apai Merien starts the session, followed by Ravi’s father, and Dato Sri. There was a lot of fun variation of ngajat dance for this session. I thought I can escape, but I also have to ngajat too.

Blowpipe competition follows suit. From each side, we have 5 representatives. It was not easy to blow the dart from afar. Apai Merien gave the first demonstration. It was followed by the others. Whosoever fails to hit the balloon target, they will have to drink. Yes, it is all about drinking when you join any Dayak events. 

After the game section was over, it was time for special announcement by Apai Merien. Ravi also gave his emotional speech after that. That’s what it means to be part of the family – together all the time, in joy and sorrow. 

Then came the most awaited time of the day, the “Enjoy Sampai Pagi” part. This is the chance for everyone to come and sing their favourite songs. Iban song, Malay song, English songs. I am not sure when the event was finished because I make my move back around 2am.

May God bless Ravi & Merien!

That’s all for now. Stay safe & take care!

Tukang Rantek,

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