THE CULTURE AND CUSTOM OF THE MELANAU ETHNIC: THE BEBAYUH CUSTOM
The Melanau ethnic is one of the biggest in Sarawak living in the Mukah area. Some are Muslims and some Christians. Those that still practice animism worship the Ipok spirit, the manifestation of the strength and power of nature. Ipok consists of Ipok Laut (Sea Ipok), Ipok Balau (Jungle Ipok), Ipok Sarauang (Sky Ipok) and Ipok Iyang (Soil Ipok).
THE FIRST DAY
On the first night the faith healer is alone in his house after being told that someone has fallen ill. The faith healer bargains with the spirit including obtaining the spirit requests for the Bebayuh ritual.
THE SECOND DAY
The second day involves the sick and the faith healer at the faith healer house or at the sick person premises depending on the spirit request. On the night itself the faith healer informs the sick person family about the spirit requests. The preparation begins in the evening of the following day. The Seladai Dance is then performed.
THE THIRD DAY
The substances for the Bebayuh ritual are young leaves such as the betel nut leaves, jasmine flower, incense, a drum, candle, and glass fragments on a white cloth.
Incense is burnt to start the ritual with mantras recited by the faith healer in the language of the faith healer spirit and that of the Ipok, at the same time hitting the drum used to detect the sick person illness. The candle is lighted inside the drum and then placed on the faith healer face. Other musicians play the rest of the musical instruments such as drum, kulintangan and gongs.
After detecting the illness the faith healer swallows the candle. The betel nut leaves are then swayed on the sick person body. The Ipok spirit enters the sick person body to cure him. Then the sick person steps on the glass fragments. The Seladai dance is then performed by seven unmarried couples with the faith healer circling the dancers with the isem pesai (a kind of young leaves).
THE FOURTH UNTIL THE SIXTH DAY
The activities for these evenings are the same as that of the second evening. The sick person has to undergo abcentism like he is forbidden to consume stingray and shark, as well as beans and eggs.
THE SEVENTH DAY
This final evening is the end of the treatment. The sick person has to prepare the payment to the faith healer that includes gold, a small spear (made of bone as the spirit food), and a live chicken.