Belait Malays and Tutong Dusuns came together yesterday to celebrate their shared determination to preserve the culture and traditions of their respective communities.
After more than five years, the Cultural Body for Belait Malays made their first visit to the Dusun community Pakatan Sang Jati Dusun (PSJD), in reciprocation of the Dusuns` 2002 official visit to Kuala Belait.
The Belait Malays were warmly received by the Pakatan Sang Jati Dusun at the PSJD Hall in Bukit Udal, Tutong yesterday morning, and were greeted by live traditional Dusun music.
The friendly visit made for an enlightening cultural exchange session between the two communities.
Chairperson of the event Luncai Uking placed emphasis on the importance of involving the younger generations of disappearing minorities in perpetuating their cultures.
Continuing to perform traditional dances, he said, was a way of actively contributing to the cause, as well as to local tourism.
"There cannot be a nation if it doesn`t have culture," concluded Uking.
The Belait Malays were invited to begin the event with their customary welcoming ritual, called the Tuang-menuang or Beras Ujud, where four married women took turns pouring rice from a brass urn into a woven basket and vice versa.
Ensuing Dusun cultural performances included the Gandang Parang, the Nyiarang and the Gandang Ebang-Ebang, the latter which was performed by PSJD youths who recently won this year`s Gandang Adau Gayoh championship.
The performances from the Belait Malays included their version of the Gandang Parang, and the Nyucui Apad.
All eyes were on a 66-year-old retiree from the Forestry Department, Hj Mohd Deru, as he performed two energetic rounds of silat kuntau to a musical accompaniment.
Not to be outdone, his Tutong counterparts matched his enthusiasm with the Membatah dance, which is traditionally done to welcome visitors.
When asked about her involvement in cultural performances, Brunei Shell employee Iznina said that she had been actively dancing since 1995.
"It got interrupted because of exams in Form Three and Five," she said, before running off to prepare for her next dance.
The cultural exchange was closed with all the performers singing the Dendang Adau Gayoh before the crowd broke up for a trip to Kampong Ubong to see how sago was processed for use in ambuyat, a traditional Bruneian dish.
A spokesperson for the Belait Malays` group said that they were planning a similar exchange in Keriam, Tutong, next as part of their ongoing efforts to bridge the cultural divide.
Source: The Brunei Times (19 Juni 2007)