Friday, February 9, 2007

The Miring Ceremony

Remove Formatting from selection Pigs and roosters are perhaps the most common and also the most important animals to the Iban community in Borneo.Besides providing them as food, they are also essentials in any family or community ritual and ceremony. Among these ceremonies, the Miring is most frequently performed. A Miring is an elaborated and very often colourful and noisy ceremony performed to applease the gods and the spirits and to receive blessings from them. Depending on the significance of the ceremony, a Miring could be attended by just a few people of a family and his close relatives to several thousand people involving several communities. Grand Miring ceremonies are performed during the Gawai Dayak (Iban Harvest Festival), Gawai Antu ( festival to remember the dead) and in modern times,the welcoming of important guests such as a government minister or dignitary.
During the Miring ceremony, a pig must be killed to sacrifice to the gods and the spirits. Usually the pig is tied on all legs to an wooden pole or placed inside a gunny sack or poly bag as shown in the top picture. The traditional way to kill the pig is using a spear or a warrior sword to cut off its throat. Instead of using the whole pig as offering, only a small amount of the pig's blood is placed in a plate together with other offerings such as rice and egg. The plate is then placed on top of a temporary altar usually made from bamboo.The whole body of the pig is then cleaned and cooked or bbq for the ensuing big feast and merry making that sometimes last for days.
The rooster plays a more different role and is always more lucky as its life will sometimes be spared in the ceremony. After two or more village elders or the guests of honor have chanted poems of good omen while waving the rooster in front of the gathered crowd, the cockscomb is cut slightly to obtain its blood as offering to the gods and spirits. The rooster may be killed for the cooking pot or will be freed.

The above pictures were taken during a Miring ceremony to commemorate the launching of a housing project involving Iban's native customary rights land .

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