Friday, June 02, 2006

In which Cayce attends a head-hunting ceremony

Whee... it's Gawai!!..

This year was a little different from the previous years where we usually just stay in town, cook delicious Filipino & native food, and welcome friends, guests and free-loaders.

This year, I took my German friends to the kampung to witness a head-hunting ceremony, minus human heads of course. Instead a poor little piggie was sacrified. I couldn't even watch it -- it gets all manic with everyone getting so into it, the squealing of the soon-to-be sacrified pig (so sad!!!), blood splashed everywhere, people drinking the freshly spilt blood, the yelling, the shooting.. eehh.. not for me, the wimpy native townie.

The Germans enjoyed it a lot though. One of them even spent the night in the baruk, sleeping under the human skulls. I was quite impressed, and so were many of the villagers who took a great liking to this guy. I think the priest (my uncle) wants to adopt him. I go hmph! because I think he likes him better than me.

We danced (although the traditional dancing is more like stomping -- great for those not so inclined to shaking their bootie) around the altar many times -- you can get quite into a trance if you go enough rounds!, played the traditional gongs (phooey - almost adopted German was also better in keeping rhythm that I was) and drank different types of brewed tuak that was offered to us. Some of the tuak can be quite nice (I prefer the sweet ones) but geeez, others are like paint-strippers!

The Germans even tried their hand in gambling, which is also a Gawai mainstay in the villages. There are these dice with colour pictograms of a fish, prawn, etc.. even this weird alien vegetable with waving tentacles that we couldn't quite figure out so it became 'alien vegetable'. Maybe it was a lotus. So anyway, there is a sheet with the same pictures and you place your bets according to which picture you fancy. And if you're lucky, you win some money. I'm never lucky on these sort of things and I think it's just a waste of money anyway (no thrill in gambling for me!) so I just watched while my friends won, and won and then lost all their money. Although one managed to win back RM50 later on in the night.

Tomorrow, we're going to witness a different type of ceremony. This one is much more calming, but possibly really boring (still a one-of-a-kind experience for my friends). The ceremony starts at around 11 p.m. and goes on for the entire night. The priests and priestesses will be going into a trance, and there would be possibly more drinking. I just hope to God there's no village disco because it's so cheesy (and worse, really really LOUD). My sister claims that there would be a make-shift bar (as there often are in the villages during Gawai) though. Oh geez. See, my least favourite Gawai experience are the drunk native men who are suddenly released out of their normal inhibitions thanks to days of solid drinking of paint-strippers. Their pathetic (and sometimes scary) attempts to seduce you are extremely irritating.

Nevertheless, it should be an interesting night!


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