22 September 2009
The next life-the Dusuns' traditional belief
It is expected that in the era of major world religions, this is not a belief that most Dusuns will readily accept. Nonetheless, it is something that is worth knowing, if only for the sake of getting to know one's heritage.
The Dusuns believed (note the use of past tense- to emphasize that it is almost impossible to find a believer nowadays) that the rusod 'soul' of the departed first went to Pongoluhan, a place high up above that most thought must be on top of the Mount Kinabalu. Then they moved on to the next life, wherever that was. It was supposed to be closer to the world of the livings than the livings realized, for the departed could see the livings. They could even be called up from their world if such needs arose, but this could only be done by the bobolians 'shaman' though.
In the next life it was believed that everything was in the opposite direction from the world of the livings. But way of life was supposed to be the same. There, the departed would reunite with family members who died before them. The departed was also supposed to take with them their possessions on earth. That's why during the funeral, they would need a proper sendoff in the forms of material things. The most common ones being rice, canned foods, clothes, and some of their favourite items while living. In small quantity, that is. Either the Dusuns practiced the concept of symbolism, or...they were too thrifty that they couldn't let themselves waste material things for the sake of the deceased. I'm not sure whether money was ever one of the sendoff items though- I've never seen that on any graveyards before. Perhaps money was too precious to waste? Or money wasn't relevant in the past?
It was perceived that the more items the departed was given as a sendoff, the easier his next life journey would be.
In my parents' village, I know of a person who still believes in this practice. Her reason? Because her husband was buried years ago with the same practice. She refuses to embrace any religion for fear that she might not see the love of her life ever again in the afterlife if she does so. Now that is a truly remarkable lady...