THE CULTURE AND CUSTOM OF THE BAJAU ETHNIC THE CUSTOM AND ABSTENTIONS OF DEATH
This ethnicity that lives in Semporna District on Sabah's east coast is different from those on Sabah's west coast in terms of language dialect and slang.
The death ceremony of this ethnic has similarities with the Malay Islamic communities. Religious obligations like bathing the corpse and till up to burial are conducted according to Islamic rites. However, there are certain customs and beliefs as well as abstentions that are still practiced now.
THE CUSTOM AND ABSTENTIONS OF DEATH
When a death occurs, the deceased family places the deceased belongings, especially clothing, on a tray together with a floral arrangement called lampai. The person who brings the lampai to the cemetery shall own the items assumed as alms from the deceased. When the coffin is carried on a stretcher to the cemetery all the deceased family members need to perform the pasuhuk, which is going underneath the coffin three times, believed to enable the deceased not to remember his living family.
It is also believed that a dead person is able to make a living person falls sick, a term called keteguran, literally translated as summoned. Those who see or encounter a delegation that brings a corpse to the cemetery must throw anything in hand, especially water or foodstuff like rice, after the delegation passes by, with the intention that may all the bad be brought together by the corpse. This action is meant to discard ill fate.
After the burial, a complete sleeping place called bangkai-bangkaian is prepared for the deceased. A pillow is placed at the head of the bangkai-bangkaian and on the right and left respectively, and all the deceased clothes are placed near it. Every morning and afternoon the religious leader visits to recite prayers for the deceased. Foods are placed beside the bangkai-bangkaian for the religious leader. For as long as the bangkai-bangkaian is in the house the host holds the tahlil (recitals for the dead) after the moslem early evening prayer.
A religious feast for the deceased is held before the moslem midday prayer for seven days consecutively. The feast is held on a bigger scale on the seventh day, the 20th day, the 40th day, and the 100th day, led by the religious leader. Foods are served in trays with mixed rice and various dishes as the compulsory menu. The menu, together with drinking water, is also given to the religious leader to be brought home. The drinking water served during the religious feast is to be given to and consumed by the host too.
The Bajau Ubian and Bajau Sikubung tribes practice the custom of magjaga-jaga which is guarding the grave after burial. It is believed that if the grave is unguarded it will be ransacked by certain sea creatures to take away the corpse. Logically, the soil in the islands around Semporna District is quite hard and stony and the grave diggers can’t dig deeper. Hence, the corpse's strong smell stimulates dogs and wild boar to dig the grave.