Monday, March 24, 2008

KAUL -A thanksgiving and a prayer

Kaul - celebrated in the Melanau month of Pengejin to thank the Ipo' (spirits/guardians) for a bountiful year past and a prayer for a good year ahead. The Melanaus belief is animistic and they believe that the world is protected and guarded by the various spirits, such as Ipo' Guun (the guardian of the jungle), Ipo Talun (forest), Ipo' Sungai (rivers), Ipo' Pangai (wind), Ipo' Daat (sea), etc. During this time, they would honour them for what they were given for the year and ask them for their good will for the coming year. They would sing their praises and thank them for the harvest given to them in the past and pray that they would grant them protection and give them a bountiful harvest in the year to come. The Father of the Kaul (Bapa Kaul) would sing them mantras to that effect to start the Kaul(KAWUL). Then they would celebrate them in a grand feast where all the people would bring with them food and drink to eat at a huge picnic by the river mouth and the beaches. They would build huge swings or 'tibou' for them to play with the spirits. They would also send offerings in the form of 'seraheng', an arrangement created with the leaves of the sago palm, the staple food of the Melanau. They would play all sorts of games on the beach during the for the whole day. They would leave whatever food that is left on the beaches and the river mouth for the spirits to feast upon at the end of the day when the festival is done for the day. It is taboo to bring the food back as it is for them who have guarded them and provided for them all their lives. otherwise, they would be cursed.

Bulan Pengejin or the month of the spirits, is the month where they honour the spirit and be close with them before they harvest the gifts of these guardians for them from the sea, the land and the air.

There are 12 month in the Melanau calendar which is based on the lunar system.

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