For me personally, it was a happy gathering of family members. My youngest son, an engineer with Shell, came all the way from Miri. His wife and a three-month old daughter were unable to come. Except for my third son, my two other children and their families were with us. However, my third son, who was in South Korea for his PhD studies, managed to call us that night before we “ngirup ai pengayu”.
As tradition would have it, our celebration began in the evening with a BBQ session and at the stroke of mid-night we prayed to God the Almighty and thanked Him for His protection and blessing. We also sought His guidance and blessing for the coming Gawai. Only then we drank “ai pengayu” and wished every one “gayu-guru gerai-nyamai”.
Celebrating Gawai at Kampung Keniong Jaya, Simunjan where I was born more than 60 years ago
As we do not live in a longhouse, but in a Malay-style of a village of 26 houses that make Kampong Sungai Samabang, Simunjan, the heads or representatives from the 26 houses have to assemble at the house of the Tuai Rumah to pay our first Gawai visit the first thing on the first day of Gawai (1 June). Then they next visited our house.
As agreed, 13 houses were to receive visitors (pengabang), while the other 13 houses would receive their guests the following day. This arrangement would enable every household to reciprocate each other’s Gawai visit. Visitors from other villages or longhouses could come any time, as the “ruling” only applied to folks of Kampong Sungai Samabang.
During the Gawai visit it was an opportunity to have met and talked to some of my relatives and friends whom I have not met for years. Some of them returned to the village once a year or once in two years as they worked in far-flung places like Johor, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
Later in the evening some of my family members went to another longhouse, Kpg. Keniong Jaya, where we met literally hundreds of relatives and wished them “gayu-guru, gerai-nyamai”. It was in this kampong where I was born more than 60 years ago.
For me this year’s gawai was just like walking down memory lane full with nostalgic feelings and sweet memories. It was indeed a memorable and pleasant one. – The Broken Shield