The cultures and traditions of the Dusun people must be preserved against the threat of extinction, said Juin Antin, the head of the Dusun community in Belait.
The veteran cultural performer said that an erosion of olden beliefs of the Dusun tribe meant that many young Dusun people are no longer practising the traditions of their ancestors: “Dusun dances are actually spontaneous; made up. But the styles remain traditional, for example using Ancayau or Temarok — rituals originally meant to interact with spirits. Now, we don’t believe in spirits so these rituals are almost extinct.”
Nevertheless, efforts to preserve the Dusun traditions continue today.
Juin leads the annual cultural performances in Belait, imparting his intimate knowledge of Dusun heritage dance, music and stories to the younger generation.
“The Dusun people are still very much present, especially in Tutong and Belait districts, in Liang, Sukang, Sg Mau and Merangking. We organise lessons in traditional music, such as the gulingtangan which is a trademark of Dusun. There are old ways and modern ways to play it and we are keeping the old ways,” he said.
Juin was speaking to the media ahead of the Adau Gayoh celebrations on Friday night organised by the Brunei Methanol Company Sdn Bhd (BMC) in collaboration with the village and mukim consulta-tive council of Zone 1, Belait.
“The presentations as usual will feature cultural performances by the local Dusun community. This year, we are introducing legendary folk tales originating from Merang-king. The Dusun community there are different from the others that are more well-known such as the Tutong Dusuns,” said Juin.
He explained that until recent migrations of people from other tribes into Merangking, the area used to be chiefly populated by the Dusun.
Much like most of the Dusun tradition, legends and folk tales are only recorded in memory and passed down orally and the stories presented at this year’s Adau Gayoh festival in Belait were at least centuries old.
Juin emphasised the importance of festivals such as Adau Gayoh, celebrated to mark a bountiful harvest, as an identity of the Dusun people.
“The Malays have Hari Raya (Aidilfitri). The Christians have (Christmas). The Chinese have (Chinese New Year). The Dusun didn’t have a common celebration so they created one so that they could come together in May after harvesting padi. That is how Adau Gayoh came to be about 20 years ago,” he said.
source: The Brunei Times
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