A Sarawakian native wedding ceremony is an interesting one to witness. For one,
the whole village is often involved. All the people living in the village are
invited. During the journey to the bride's house, many villagers join in as the
procession passed by.
On the day of ceremony, the bridegroom and his party go
the bride's village. During the journey, by boat or over-land, the bridegroom's
party beats the gong and drum. The purpose is to avoid hearing the cry of bad
omens. When they reach the vicinity of the
village, the party will take a rest. This is the time for them to dress
themselves in traditional costumes.
After changing their clothes, they continue their journey to the village. As
soon as the people in the bride's longhouse see their guests coming, they fire
guns to welcome the guests. The groom's party then return the gun salutes with
equal number of gunshots and proceeds to the longhouse.
Upon entering the longhouse, the guests are invited to sit down, the men at
the upper part of the gallery and the women in the hall. The ceremony begins
with the initiation session. The session can
be a lengthy affair as speakers from both sides give their speeches. In their
speeches, they talk about how well they know the bride and groom. Later, both
the bride's and the bridegroom's families introduce their relatives to each
The wedding ceremony takes place at the bridegroom's longhouse in the
evening. The couple, dressed in traditional costumes, are seated side by side on
brass gongs. By their sides are the bestman and bridesmaid who are also dressed
in traditional costumes. Both of them have to stand in attendance. The village
headman then performs the ceremony by holding and waving a cockerel over their
heads, reciting his prayer of blessing. The significance of this is to bless and
to wish the couple a happy married life.
The ceremony is then followed by the sprinkling of beads over the married
couple. While doing this, the headman invokes a short prayer asking the spirits
to bless, guide and guard them in their daily lives. As soon as this ceremony is
over, food and the rice wine are served.
It is customary for an endless list of
speakers to stand up to give words of advice to the newly married couple. The
first to speak are the parents of both the bridegroom and the bride. This is
followed by their uncles, aunts, grandparents, brothers, sisters and other
relatives. The final speaker is the headman. After this is over, entertainment
The merry-making commences with a lot of food, drinks and entertainment such
as performances of traditional dances. This can last till dawn. The next morning
the bridegroom takes the bride back to his village. Dressed in traditional
costume she is accompanied by her parents and members of her longhouse.