Truly Sarawakian Wedding: Dominic & Ernie

Tabi basa and greetings family and friends,

Saturday is here once again, finally coming to soothe us from the toils of the week, granting us an opportunity to do what we love most, be it spending quality time with our family, to sleep peacefully beyond 9am or for some, to pursue your passion, which can be anything from photography to blogging. I love to combine both as I love to tell stories. This time, my story is about photography job that I have accomplished yesterday night at Miri, which is wedding between a friend of mine, Dominic and Ernie. Before I proceed further, let me tell you a bit of story about Sarawak.

Sarawak – The Land of Hornbill

Sarawak, one of Malaysia’s “state”,  is located at South East Asia, where the tropical climate and its perfect humidity and oxygen concentration blesses with beautiful flora and fauna that one in the Arctic circle can only imagine what it is like in the past, before our world becomes smaller thanks to ever-growing technology. Sarawak was used to be part of Brunei and most of the Dayak peoples (Bidayuh & Iban) and Orang Ulu (an umbrella term for Sarawakian tribes residing in the North-Eastern Sarawak, including Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Lun Bawang, Kelabit, although their Kalimantan counterpart still refer themselves as Dayak) was practicing headhunting. Then came James Brooke in 1838 to Kuching, where he helped Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien II of Brunei to fight and pacify the uprising against Sultan. He also was successful in thwarting the assassination against Pangeran Muda Hashim and restored power to Sultan, thus securing his power and over the land in 1841, and officially declared as Rajah of Sarawak in 18 August 1842.

James Brooke

There was a bit of untold story in our History textbook though, because in his army, there is a lot of Dayak warriors and headhunters because it is said, only Dayak can kill Dayak. Just imagine what would happen if Dayaks are united?

Fast forward to present time, Sarawak is one of the place where you can still find mosque and church side-by-side, both opening up their parking spot to one another during the peak hours of prayer time, like what Mirians did. It is also a place where one can enjoy his or her own food at their own peace, accompanied by a Muslim colleague who is not even bothered by the fact that someone is eating non-halal food beside them. Yes, it is normal, nothing to be made fuss about. In the words of late Tok Nan, “makan sama, tidur sama, cari amoi pun sama-sama” (eat together, sleep together, looking for pretty woman also together), a statement that speaks volume about Sarawakian and their harmony, enviable by many.

Being a Sarawakian, in case someone is asking me what is the secret of racial harmony at Sarawak, I would say, it is our tolerance to one another. We can tolerate different cultures, different religion. You won’t hear Sarawakians complain about “azan” in the morning. It would be weird, because we believe that your religion is your religion, and you do what you need to do about it. That is why when someone wants to plant the seed of hatred in Sarawakians for their personal gain, many Sarawakians would oppose it, to safeguard our racial and religious harmony. It is our treasure.

Other than that, Sarawakians are blessed with a variety of cultures. Having about 54 different ethnic groups, it is no surprise that there is a lot of mixed-marriages within Sarawakians. As a teenager, I am also fascinated by these variety, and that solidifies my resolve to commit into dancing while I am at university, which is something that I never regret joining, from which I also met her – the one.

Moving from there, I would also want to talk about the experience that I had last night, witnessing the holy union between Dominic, an Iban-Chinese, and Ernie, a Lun Bawang lady.

The Holy Union

I am truly pleased to see the variety of peoples coming last night, because it is truly Sarawakian wedding. Why? Well, the couple is Iban-Chinese-Lunbawang, and in the crowd of guests, we have (from what I have spotted) Bidayuh (yours tukang rantek included), Iban, Kenyah, Kayan, Malay, Chinese, and many more. I think there are some from Sabah and Peninsular. From here, it shows the unique blend of people that made the circle of friends for Dominic and Ernie.

The holy union was done by Pastor Robert in accordance to the Christian, specifically BEM (Borneo Evangelical Mission) practices, which is what majority of Lun Bawang practices. Regardless, whatever a man and woman do, blessing has to be sought from the Almighty God.

“And from the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man, He made a woman and brought her to him. And the man said: 

This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man she was taken.”

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”

Genesis 2:22-24

Bon Apetit

Finally, meal time! Mega Hotel did one of a kind performance, where they dance to Señorita song, by Camilla Cabello and Shawn Mendez.

Dancing with Mega Hotel’s señorita.


As usual, it is not complete for the people to come and dance.

After the beautiful dance by the ladies, it is time to hear some talents from the both family side.

Lun Bawang’s Adat Petated

Once the wedding blessing is done, it is continued with the Adat Petated (to send) in accordance to the Lun Bawang cultures. In the olden days, the bride’s family will send her to the groom’s long house because she will live with him. Because Lun Bawang is Christian now, therefore, this is just a symbolic, lest the younger generations did not know the beautiful culture of their ancestors in the past.

Long row of ladies from Ernie’s family
The first group of ladies arriving on stage, while dancing beautifully to the music.
Dominic and Ernie can’t contain the joy in the heart
Here come the boys
Don’t mess around with Lun Bawang warriors.

Each of the items given symbolizes the needs of the bride and groom in their future life together. Based on emcee’s explanation, effective 2018, the guideline of dowry for Lun Bawang is RM8300, from RM3500 before that. It means that potential groom has to be to provide to his bride, a skill that is necessary for their future life together.

Ernie and his new mother.
Mr Clement kisses his beloved grandson.
Welcome to Lun Bawang club Dom.

Yam Seng!

In honour of Dominic’s Chinese side, he was asked to do Yam Seng. But he get the help from his new family, the Boys in Pink.

All is good, says Jackson.
Up and away goes the fizz.
Happy faces.
Yaaaaaammmmm seennggggggg

Mejeng Time

As usual, once the official ceremony is over, the stage is opened for all, where many talented family members show cases their talent as what you can see here.

Ngajat time.
Okkaayyyy kayoooo

The wedding reception was a lively one thanks to the supporting family and friends that came from afar to make it happens, and an evening to be remembered. May God bless both Ernie and Dominic, and their family!

p.s. What I noticed last night is that Lun Bawang and Bidayuh has a some similarities. For example, “uduh” means grass, “betated” & “nganted” means the same thing, which is “to send”. For in law, we also refers to it as “iban”, not to be confused with Iban ethnic. Also, we refer ourselves as the Land Peoples and the male warrior’s jacket are made from wood, not leather. I think there is more, but due to lack of expsure to Lun Bawang’s culture, I can only refer to these examples. However, this is not surprising because both has the same root, if you trace back the origins.

Bonus: The Secret of Everlasting Love

I have been reading a lot of books about relationship and asked a number of peoples, especially the senior ones on how they sustain their relationship until great-grandchildren level.

Regardless of the level of age, there is one thing in common – communication. Good communication is vital. There is no substitute to it. You can’t replace real life person’s presence and warmth with gadgets, because our body itself, housing a real soul emits different frequency and energy compared to any gadget.

Also, it is important to keep the communication level closeness similar or even better than the first time you meet each other.

All this is not to discount the “killer” in a relationship, which is UNREALISTIC EXPECTATION. I purposely capitalise it because it is one of the killer that we have in any relationship. Everyone has a set of expectation from their partners, but going above and beyond physical capability is not realistic, such as expecting your short partner to be as tall as model. That is not realistic.

What can be done is to 1) acknowledge the current situation, and then 2) devise a plan to improve. If you want your wife to look beautiful, encourage her to spend more time to groom herself. You can do your part by buying her beauty products like SK-II and give her some time to go to saloon, once a week.

If you complain that your wife has no time for you, look at her schedule once again. If you think that she spends too much time to wash the dishes or wash the clothes, try to take up some of the physical load.

On mental load, which every woman is automatically engaged into once they became a mother, try to help her by doing a to-do list. That will help her to remember critical stuff. Less stuff on her mind, the less messy she is. Eventually, the younger she will look. During my recent work-related conference, I learned that “STRESS CAN CAUSE CANCER”. That’s a good wake-up call for me. That’s why I always do the things that I love to do, such as writing these blogs.

Some might argue and use fallacy of credibility on me because I am not a father or a husband yet, but I sincerely hope that these tips help you. Even if you don’t use it, I lose nothing.

My time and your time is better used to love more, instead of hating and finding fault of others. I better spend it to find out how to make my life better for me and my family. For me, that is more important. We are living a finite amount of time. Therefore, seize the day! Love more.

Your Tukang Rantek,
Claudius Weson

Gear used: Leica M10, Summilux35.

Note: Claudius Weson is a tukang rantek (photographer in Bidayuh Pichin) based in Miri, mainly doing portraiture (indoor / studio / outdoor photoshoot), weddings and event photography.

© Claudius Weson Photography (2019). All rights reserved.

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error: © Claudius Weson (2017 - 2024). All rights reserved.