Monday, December 22, 2008


In Iban community, Ngayap is a custom. According to Joshua Meling (1988:88, translated by Jonathan Singki Lintan), Ngayap is one of Iban word; mean, “love customary”. This custom was practiced in Iban community especially in single man contexts or not married man date with single woman or not married woman in kibung or bed at the night. These customs have been alive along time ago and inherited from them ancestors.

According to my late grandfather 12 years ago, even though Ngayap activities did at night but single man and his group always avoid to make any noise that can disturbed others people whose slept in bilik. Sometime, a single man tried to make his Ngayap as a secret and confidential. My late grandfather said:

“Whatever, please don’t make any misjudge or misunderstanding about the reason of Ngayap. It’s not for any “black” reason or “doing something”, but it is more to make tough relationship. It is because in our time, from Ngayap we’ll find our future wife. But it is not very easily. Sometime the single woman don’t accept you if you don’t show yours strength like get an antu pala (bedengah / basah jari) or something like hardworking and so on”.
From my own opinion, Ngayap is very unique cultural. For example, at that time a single man will be play a ruding (according to Joshua Meling, 1988:88, ruding is more to Jew harp). When a single man play this stuff, the melody from ruding will tell the single woman about desire of man. Then, single woman will give response to the melody from man ruding. If the melody from the woman is positive then the man can Ngayap at that night. If the response from that woman ruding melody is negative then the man will cancel his plan. If the single man still with his desire to Ngayap at that night, the woman might be tell her parents of light up the lamp.

Moreover, in Iban customary, Ngayap from single man to single woman has a limit which is a single man only can Ngayap a single woman not more than tree time. According to Joshua Meling (1988), first time Ngayap reason is just for an ace-breaking session with short discussion. Second time Ngayap reason is to make relationship more clear. May be a long time will be use, and may be with more proper way and proper manner if compare with the first Ngayap. Thirdly or lastly Ngayap reason is for a man makes any decision either will propose that woman or not. To show how much that man sincere, he will give the woman a gift. Awhile from that, man representative will propose that woman with a proper way and proper adat/custom. Here, this meeting will make decision when, what, where the weeding day will be doing.

Note: Nowadays, Ngayap already spread around the world and surely many people knew about this Ngayap. But, sadly to say; some information that spread to any place and any person, already make any plus, divide, minus here any there which is make it’s untrue or wrong info. While that, if we going back to our nenek moyang time, Ngayap only for Iban community but restricted for an outsider. This restricted doesn’t mean that Iban community not allows interracial married. But it is a custom and not every people can do it. Obviously, Ngayap's based on spirit of friendship, understanding, and also tolerant with each others. From that, at that time, mostly this man and woman married each others because of this spirit from Ngayap. On the other hand, the modernization and globalization already give impact or change Ngayap activities; it’s likely no more suitable or relevant. This is especially in areas that already absorbed the others cultural and these things make it distinct; especially appearing of SMS, handset, e-mail or blog. All sort of this thing indirectly impacted this Ngayap.

Reference:Joshua Meling, (1988). (Translated by Jonathan Singki Lintan). Aspek Sosial, Kebudayaan dan Keagamaan Masyarakat Iban Di Sarawak. Dalam Adat Resam Penduduk Sarawak. Kuching: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Cawangan Sarawak.
A pieces of Memory of Randau with my late grandfather; Nyipa Manan in 1996 which is I still remember till today. At this time I was very young but I really love and like to hear my beloved late grandfather berensera. Apart from that was his Ngayap experience.

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