I notice lately that in my hometown, traditional wedding ceremony is making a comeback. It is something I silently applaud. For years, the Dusuns were so engrossed in embracing modernisation that most aspects of the culture were let slip away slowly.
Anyway, I really enjoyed looking at my cousin's traditional wedding pictures. Of whether it was 'traditional' in every sense of the word, it doesn't matter. At least there were the food: linopot (wrapped rice), sup polod (soup made of some kind of root plant), tuhau (pickled 'tuhau' plant with chillies) and sup nangko (young jackfruit soup) served in coconut shells:
and there was the 'panau' ceremony even though it was done in broad daylight.
In my grandmother's time, there were no such things as fancy engagement ceremonies. The bride wouldn't even be told that she was getting married, for every marriage was arranged by their parents/elder relatives. By the time a girl turned about 9 or 10 years of age, somebody's parents would secretly 'book' her to be their future daughter in-law. Wedding date would be agreed upon between the parents, and preparation would soon be underway without any of the non-married members of the family knowing. They would definitely suspect that one of them was going to be married off, but no one would ever tell them till the day of the wedding.
On the big day, the girl would be woken up in the middle of the night, and taken to the bridegroom's place. (known as panau = journey) It was then that she would be told that she was being married off! And grandmother told me "Of course there would be tears! Who in their right mind would want to be married to a stranger!" But no one escaped anyway.
They would then be married off. The people would come help them celebrate in the morning with all the merry makings, eating and drinking. But that was only part one...the bride wouldn't be united with the bridegroom yet, until part two was done...
(Above: my cousin's 'panau' picture. I wish I was there to witness this beautiful tradition)