Makan Tahun: Ritual Communication of Kadayan Community in Sarawak

Authors: Mohamad Maulana Magiman, Norhuda Salleh (Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia)
Speakers: Mohamad Maulana Magiman, Norhuda Salleh
Topic: Language, Community, Ethnicity
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


Ritual is one of the many ways to communicate. Generally, any forms of rituals performed by those who practice them are considered as a method of communication. A ritual is a symbolic action in social situations as it is a way to deliver messages. This study investigates the ritual communication locally known as ‘Makan Tahun’ which is a ritual activity still practiced by the Kadayan community in Bekenu, Sarawak as a way to express their gratitude to God for allowing good harvests for the farmers. The ethnographic approach was used as the data input in this research. Interviews with the Imam and village shaman who acted as the leaders of prayer and event coordinator respectively were done at the research location at Sebuti, Sarawak in 2017. The findings of this research show the ritual communications, performed by the community who practices them, are led by someone religious through a prayer known as a symbol. Additionally, the shaman plays the role of a coordinator to naturalise the ambience before the symbolic function is to be performed. The ritual communication–the ‘Makan Tahun’ activity–is therefore performed by the practitioners in the community as a way to express gratitude for the blessings they have received and also to pray for future blessings.

Keywords: ritual, ritual communication, belief system