Human beliefs are always guided by religious faith and culture. Borneo or Kalimantan island is a big land mass with various cultures and religious faiths.
Today I want to narrate one of cultural belief which I observed personally during staying the village.
It was a cloudy afternoon (18/10/2015) as the sun was under cover and also with smog that has hit some regions of Kalimantan during this period every year, resulting in many diseases, mainly with breathing problems from young to old.
So to perform local Dayak ritual, under the command of chief of adat to get rid of diseases, early monsoon, birth anniversary etc; a buffalo was tied on its neck with about 7 meter rope to pole, fixed at the center of a big community hall. As buffalo was tied so it could only move encircling the pole.
Meanwhile, a number of men covering their head with cloth and holding one dagger each, were standing facing the buffalo. They were on a horse stance like preparing themselves to fight with enemies and evils. Those men were the members of Dayak Customary Council who had the mission to hit the buffalo.
First jab by one of the member landed in the lower back of the buffalo. The animal was still unmoved and even persisted ran in front of spectators who crowded around the arena. However as the buffalo was tied up and hurt and jabbed by many people equipped with sharp weapons, it is no wonder that his opposition ended in vain. The buffalo eventually collapsed and was declared to give up after a few thrust hit his body and his fresh blood falling down to the dried ground.
The audience who previously staring tensely at the show turns into thunderous cheers. Some people shouted excitedly for whatever reasons, and perhaps someone has the same feeling with me that we glad to see attack toward the bull being stopped. We could not help to see the animal slaughter any longer.
What I have told you above was a peak of the birthday celebration of Erai Pakat customs hall in Patas village, kecamatan Gunung Bintang Awai, regency of Barito Selatan, province of Central Kalimantan.
Erai Pakat is a traditional building used for ritual purposes by Dayak Bawo a.k.a Dayak Lawangan. Their ancestors originally settled in Mount Bawo, in area of Bintang Ara village, Gunung Bintang Awai district. The buffalo sacrifice treats as a symbol of resistance against the evil. It is expected that residents will be kept away from danger, their coming harvest will be plentiful, and they can live happily.
For information, Dayak tribe in Kalimantan, especially in Central Kalimantan, has many kinds of clumps originated from Dayak e.g. Maanyan, Bakumpai, Lawangan. They live around the Barito River. Each of them has their own dialect and customs.
I noted that an open-legalized gambling is part of almost every traditional Dayak festival in Central Kalimantan. I called legalized gambling because gambling has been categorized as one of social ills and it is therefore prohibited by government. The fact is that gambling in the customary festival of Daayak has become the main attraction of visitors coming from outside their village and community as well. We can also find people are gambling in a mourning household of Kaharingan followers—it is a folk religion possesed by many Dayaks in Kalimantan. People used to call arena of the such gambling as Wara.
In that Dayak Lawangan traditional festival which was held in a week, the committee made a series of events every night. While ritual dances took place in the hall, crowded by people, men and women – old and young and even kids are sitting together in the gambling stand. I recognized some of them coming with their wife and son to place their bets at the craps table. The amount of bets start from five thousands up to millions. There are no taboos, no shame. And they look friendly, enthusiastic, like worshipers in a holy land of --no offense--Mekkah.
To maintain order during the event, the committee made a rule. Whoever breaks the rule will be fined. A bookie man had to pay a fine of Rp 4 million and set up two pigs along with its ceremonial supports for slapping people in the arena of Wara. If it uses a sharp weapon, the fine can even be bigger.
Farid Yusran, Bupati of the regency of Barito Selatan, who received an honorary title from the community of Dayak Lawangan. The Regent who are indigenous of Dayak Bakumpai said that he should be in the cordination meeting with Governor to discuss about the forest fires. But he prefers to attend a festival held by Dayak Lawangan. He of course got a rousing appluase from the audience. What a flattery craps, I said to myself