Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Bulan Pengejin (The Month of the Spirits)

10:45 PM

Bulan Melanau.001
Photo by: Douglas Scortegagna


This marks the beginning of the year and coincides with the Gregorian month of March.


During this month, it is windy and the rain comes down in light showers in the beginning. The wind will gradually become stronger and the sun will move northerly and the moon will replace the original location of the sun.

Fish will be plentiful in the forest and the jungle as they come out to search for food to be eaten and to be stored. After that, they will hide again in their holes.  This is a time when it is difficult for the Melanau to go out to work because of the strong wind, thus they will spend their time cleaning the tools and equipment of their trades.


This is the time that they mark as the beginning of the year, the first month of Pengejin. At the end of this month, they will purify themselves and call the fish out from their lairs, from the beaches and the river mouths. This ceremony is called “Kaul” by the Melanau.

During this ceremony, they would construct the huge swing called “Tibou” and sing the tibou mantra during its construction, seeking the blessings of their guardian ‘gods’ for plentiful flowers, bountiful harvests of fruits and that there be plentiful fish in the sea for them and that illness and afflictions be removed and all evil to be return to their own place.

They will also send offerings called "Serahang" out to the sea to appease them and invite them to partake their feast with them. After the feast, all food and drink is left by the shore for the guardians and spirits to take with them. None is to be taken back for it it the feast for the spirits and guardians.

source: Disappearing culture

The calendar is a translation from handwritten notes of the ancient calendar given by the late Godfrid Albert Yaman @ Yaman bin Guan, who was also the founder of the Melanau Associations throughout Sarawak.

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