Ba Kelalan


The Tradition Of The Mountain People

Categorised as Orang Ulu in Sarawak, the Lun Bawang people, formerly known as the Muruts, mostly reside in Lawas, Trusan and Limbang. For the record, the Muruts live in several districts in Sabah. Lun Bawang, which means ‘mountain people’ in the local language is the majority residents residing in Ba’ Kelalan with about 2,100 people. A small number of the residents are the Kelabits who practice similar lifestyle and almost the same language with the Lun Bawangs. The lives of the community here is still unpolluted and they still strongly uphold their customs and traditional arts which they inherited long time ago.  They mostly live in longhouses, speak the same language and practice Christianity.

One of Lun Bawang’s traditional delicacies is Nuba’ Laya which is rice wrapped using banana leaves, or itip. On the other hand Telu is salted meat or fish stored in bamboos for more than a month, offering sour and salty taste which is the local’s favourite. Besides that, narar (smoked meat), biter (vegetables soup), and rice based cookies such as ruti benak, kerupuk bera, tinape, pelupis and nune are part of Lun Bawang’s traditional food, often served here.

Looking at the history of the people, long ago the men wore leather made attire called kuyu talon. The cloth worn as headgear is called sigar and the short pants are known as abpar. Long machetes around their waist used during war time are called pelepet. The women of Lun Bawang used to wear head decoration known as pata, bane around the neck, gileng or pakel worn around their hands and beret which was used around the waist.

Their traditional musical instrument is made of bamboo and played in groups. This wind instrument is divided into two types; suling and bass. The suling is usually played by the women while the bass is blown by the men. Lun Bawang’s traditional dances known as Warrior Dance are called Busak Akui and Alai Ngerang. The patriotic song, Ba’ Kelalan My Home Sweet Home is a proof that the society here is very proud of their home, inherited from their descendants.

Irau Ako Lun Bawang Festival which is celebrated every year on 1st June provides the opportunity for the people to watch and enjoy Lun Bawang’s rich cultural showcase and the variety of handicrafts such as beads, tree bark clothing and their traditional costumes. The climax of the festival is the traditional clothes modelling competition which is divided into two categories; ruran ulung for the women and padan liu burung for the men.Living in a secluded and remote area doesn’t stop the residents of Ba’ Kelalan from producing successful and excellent generation. This can be proven with the presence of few important people who have been doing lots of good deeds for the community. One of them was the late Doctor Judson Sakai Tagal, the Sarawak’s ex Minister of Health who until his last breath was really alert and committed in developing his people.

The same can be said about his father, Tagal Paran, 74, who is responsible in making Ba’ Kelalan well known with his successful apple estate, the first in Malaysia and the owner of Apple Lodge. Their success is exemplary for the locals and younger generation, especially the Lun Bawang, to carve even bigger successes in various fields.

Last Updated on Friday, 21 May 2010 13:35
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