MAH MERI TRIBE & THE BEACH RITUAL FOR SEA SPIRITS

The Mah Meri tribe practices animism. It is compulsory for them to do a a ritual called Puja Pantai or Semah Laut annually. It is done on the 5th day of the Chinese New Year. The events that you will see took place in Kampung Judah (Judah Village), Pulau Carey (Carey Island), Banting.

Purpose:
Mah Meri tribe believes that there are satanic forces, demons or djinn can influence their livelihood. They call it “hantu air” or literally translated as "Water Ghost". This ritual is done to prevent tragedies by appeasing the spirits which involve a sacrificial buffalo. The buffalo is slaughtered and the head called “semah” is then floated in the sea water as an offering to the sea spirits.

The Ritual Process:
The first step is to invoke the ancestor’s spirits. This is done by a Mah Meri Shaman. The ritual will only be conducted after getting the approval of the ancestor that possessed the Shaman.


Then, the Shaman and the tribe proceed to the headwaters to take a boat. While on the way, the Shaman who is already possessed will dance along as the tribe people sing and play the traditional music.


Once on the boat, they will paddle towards the river mouth. Once they approach a place called Tanjung Patung, the Shaman will begin to pour some material offerings into the river while continuously singing and chanting mantras.

As they approach the river bank, the Shaman will request the tribe people to erect the yellow flags. Once the flags are erected another ancestor enters the body of this Shaman, called Moyang Bajos. Moyang Bajos will sing hymns and praises the other ancestors. (Prior to this ceremony, the tribes people have already erected a structure which they call “Tiang Seri” where the Shaman will sit along with the people.) The Shaman will bless the people, pledge a bountiful harvest and that the harmony of the village will be preserved.


The Shaman will then walk towards the “castle” while bringing “bunga telur” (a decorated egg to resemble a branch, leaves and egg in the place of a flower). This is where the Shaman will eat the offerings.





After consuming the food, the Shaman will step down to proceed to dance. A dance ritual will commence called the “Jooh” where the possessed Shaman will dance along with the dancers who are mostly young girls. They will circumambulate nine times while making different hand gestures. This ritual ends when the ancestor’s spirit leaves the body of the Shaman.

CONTRIBUTION:
Sudirman Hj Rosli

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