THE CULTURE AND CUSTOM OF THE IBAN ETHNIC: THE MIRING CUSTOM
The Ibans are about 29% of the Sarawak population. They live in around 5,000 long houses in the interior of Sri Aman, Betong, Kapit, Song, Bintulu, Sibu and almost along the whole of Rajang River.
The Miring custom meant to bless the people, protecting them and to give and bring happiness, peace as well as harmony within the community. This custom is implemented before an important activity or after a calamity or an unwanted incident.
This custom uses plates with four levels of usage as follows:
1. Three is considered a normal miring, for example for those who experience bad dreams or when going to work in the paddy fields.
2. Five is when to build a long house.
3. Seven is for heavier activities like to travel on a long journey.
4. Nine is for wars.
A pig is needed for level five and above.
The ingredients for the offering are white glutinous rice, black glutinous rice, white rice, pressed rice, chicken, pig, toddy, sago, cigar, tobacco, boiled egg, betel leaf, betel nut, salt and cooking oil. These are placed on the plates with prayers recited.
The ceremony begins with sacrificing the pig and chicken. But before that the chicken is swayed on the guests or the honoured. The chicken blood and feather are required to complete this ceremony. The honoured person pours half of the toddy into glasses as a the main toddy; while the other half is consumed.
A tree placed in the room is decorated with hanging fruits consisting of foods and drinks to be slashed by the ngajat dancers when they dance around the tree. Coconuts are normally hung too symbolising the enemy heads. The male dancers symbolically dismember the enemy heads represented by the coconuts.
The ngajat dance is said to originate from the ngayau (head hunting) culture whereby the successful headhunters are honoured with traditional music and dance to mark the success.
The beating of gongs accompanies the ceremony that involve certain sampi (prayers) handled by a manang (faith healer).