Lepo' Tau Dayak
Sarawak (Borneo)


It's interesting and sometimes funny when it comes to old beliefs. Then again, there's always some logics behind these beliefs and sometimes mysteries. Surprisingly, these beliefs are still being practice till today. 
Here are some of the old folk believes that parents use to tell or scare the young ones. 

  1. DO NOT POINT FINGER AT THE RAINBOW, if you must, only point with your tumb. Otherwise, your fingers will be crooked after!
  2. DO NOT GO TO SLEEP IMMEDIATELY AFTER MEAL: You'll be a lazy butt.
  3. LADIES DON'T WAKE UP AFTER THE SUN RISE: Will end up single for the rest of your life.
  4. DON'T TALK LOUD AND BOASTFUL IN THE JUNGLE: Not to disturb or anger the spirit of the  jungle.
  5. DON'T JUMP OVER FOODS: You'll be curse!
  6. Tie a red cloth or thread on one of your finger if you get an eye infection.
  7. When you see a dog or a cat about to poo, quickly pull the fingers of the person next to you. So the cat or dog wouldn't be able to poo! (Yeap, I think so too. Nasty!)
  8. Never walk or jump over older folks. Curse! Big time!
  9. Do not start eating before the elderly.
  10. Not suppose to sit higher than the elderly.
  11. Do not speak or laugh too loud, especially for the girls.
  12. Burnt a few hairs if you want to get rid of bad dreams.

Contributed by: Charles Franklyn Lusat

Here are some of the old beliefs, yang uwek ake un ajar n my late grandma told me...
  • Don't skip dinner,otherwise 'something' fishy will go in your throat.
  • Don't talk too much about something that we've planned on because it might not happen.
  • Don't always do things half-way,because your life will also end-up half-way.
  • Don't ever make fun or hurt animals. Something bad might happen to you.
  • When it rains during a sunny day(hujan panas), it's best for people not to go out but if you happens to be out, pick a grass and put it between your ear and head. Because according to beliefs, this is the time when the ghosts or spirits come out to go hunting. By doing that so, the spirits will mistaken us for plants or grass. Therefore they will pass us or not take us.
Inala antara ya ake tisen. Kadok la'a. Hope this helps..hehe! 



Immediately after a nobleman has died, a gong is quickly beaten three times and is repeated thrice. After this, all the gongs and one drum in the deceased's room are beaten to summon all the people, including those who are away in the farms.

As soon as all have come and especially after the arrival of all the relatives, the dead man is dressed in his best clothes. His body is raised to a standing position, being held by two or more men while he is dressed by an old man.

While dressing him, the old man recites a prayer to encourage the dead man to be brave when meeting the evil spirits and all else on his way to the other world. The old man begs him to be courageous on hi arrival in the other world in talking to the rest of the relatives who have, long ago, departed this life. Finally, he begs him before leaving the living to bless them so that they will be prosperous and healthy in this world.

After being dressed, the deceased is placed in a semi-reclining position on a low platform in the room, surrounded by the assembled chiefs and those who are making the coffin. The members of the family and the young people of the village are busy killing chickens and pigs for the workers to eat. If food is lacking it will disgrace the family. 

The following day, as soon as the coffin has been completed, the corpse is placed inside to await the funeral. While one party is busy in the house, the other is busy constructing a hut in the graveyard under which the coffin will be buried.

As soon as the hut has been erected, which is always on the fifth day, an old noble woman leads six men to walk around it, each holding a stick, while the woman holds only a wooden box with two earrings in to make the sound "rak-rak-rak" as she shakes it. She leads the procession from the room seven times. They walk in and out of the room to encircle the coffin now being removed to the verandah outside. This procession is called "Namu'ah" which begins the ceremony.

When the procession finishes, those who participated are given rice which has been wrapped in leaves, called "Serapui". This special rice is eaten and then hundreds of people wail for one hour. At about 1p.m on the next day, the funeral takes place. As it begins, guns are fired and gongs and drums are beaten. 

In the graveyard, the coffin is placed in the hut. Then all return to the deceased's house to attend the "Belagot", a ceremony to mark the separation of the living from the dead. At about 7p.m., all the people will wail again. After the weeping an old man holds one knife and some beads in his hand and informs all that for one month, no-one is to make merry, and nobody is allowed to beat drums and gongs or play any kind of musical instrument. Anyone found doing so will be fined one chicken for not respecting the mourners. At the expiration of one month's mourning period, a three-day "Mamat" is held for the mourners to change their mourning clothers to ordinary ones. At this special "Mamat" no dance is performed, no "batu tuloi" (stones used in game) are rolled, and there is no "Baway", as is done during the annual "Mamat". 

In the case of the death of a very rich nobleman, the family, who should be able to produce all the food, would arrange for the funeral to take place on the eight or tenth day after death, particularly in the case of a "Paran Bio".


(The Living Legends: Borneans telling their tales)