The marriage of the Kadazan tribe is based on the parent agreement as it is the parents that choose their children's spouses. All ceremonial management and expenses during enquiring, engagement, and marriage are done and borne by the parents. The would-be groom or bride only knows the arrangement when the marrige date is getting closer.

The Kadazan community only allows a marriage without blood ties thus the parents' involvement in identifying their children's life partners is significant in evading such marriage. Non-conformity to custom and community norms is believed to invite ill fate to the couple and their families as well as the community as a whole.


This custom is inviting the bride and paraded on foot to the groom's house if the couple lives in the same village. The miohon do pinisi (exchanging of lumped rice) custom is also held to endorse the marriage. Both these customs are signified with tondiadi (traditional poems) and rinait (mantras) recitals.

In this ceremony, there is the polintuhun event (permitting the daughter to be married to the chosen man) with the purpose of delaying the bride to the groom's house. This is to symbolize that the bride's family feels they have lost a daughter as a daughter is very valuable and the source of assets to the parents through nopung (marriage dowry).

A daughter marriage is held as a big occasion together with customs to respect and honor the daughter's deeds when she was with her family. If a death occurs before a marriage then the marriage is postponed, but if a death occurs during the marriage ceremony then the ceremony has to cease for a while. The bobolian (priest) is summoned to recite mantras to free the newly-wed couple and their families from calamities.

There is abstinence to be adhered to by the newlywed couple during the wedding ceremony. For example, they are forbidden to consume sour fruits like oranges and mangoes and vegetables like the banana bloom.

Three representatives from the groom's side visit the bride's house around 3 p.m. bringing along a gong. The bride's family entertains them with hospitability, serving them food and drinks including the traditional drink of tapai (fermented rice). The representatives need to be with good manners as during this period the bride's family can gauge the groom's family's attitude. Their manners can be seen when they are served with tapai till they are drunk and vomit out.

The polintuhun (to the groom's house) ceremony begins in the evening accompanied by tondiadi (wedding quatrains). Before stepping on the land, the bride recites the tondiadi as a shield and reminder to her. The tata or jamung (torches) are used to light the pathway. Along the route, the entourage recites quatrains in reciprocation.

Along the way, the entourage passes by the villagers' houses and many of the villagers already know about the entourage's path. The villagers are ready at their verandas welcoming the entourage that recites tondiadi according to the suitability of the occasion at that moment.

Upon reaching the groom's house the entourage is given a warm welcome. The groom's representative that is waiting at the compound informs the hosts (the groom's parents) of the arrival by reciting tondiadi. After the reciprocating of quatrains, the entourage is ushered into the house and served food and stupefied drinks. The bride sits on a timpohon (a low wooden chair) while the groom is forbidden to be in the house at that moment.

During the mongoi panau ceremony, a person's behavior and attitude are given attention. There are no representatives from both parties that try to invoke commotion even though they are drunk. The fermented rice prepared by the hosts in a number of jars is already recited with mantras to avoid unwanted incidents, like a quarrel.

The bride sleeps accompanied by her female friends in her entourage. The next morning the bride is returned to her house by the groom's mother with four female representatives of the groom. In the evening once again the bride is paraded to the groom's house. Only on the second day the bride and groom can meet and spend the night together. They act normally with their families and friends. After being a husband and wife the bride is allowed to return and stay with her parents until she is ready to stay in his husband's family house.

In yesteryears, if the wife is not ready to leave her house and her parents the husband plays the sompoton (a traditional musical instrument) to help calm his wife and be ready to join him at home.

Jabatan Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Negara, Sabah

Kompleks JKKN Sabah,
KM 4, Jalan Penampang,
88200 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Tel : 088 237052
Faks : 088 242 052