30 September 2009
Ask any Dusun, and they'd know what 'tapun' is. It's not so easy to define the word, though. In fact, I think there is no apt definition in English. It's a word we say to avoid 'opuhunan', i.e harms as a result of not eating the food we thought of eating.
So 'tapun' is really a food word. Food, to the Dusuns is almost sacred. You cannot say you want to eat something and not eat it before leaving the house or the place where you thought of eating that something. The least you could do is say 'tapun', and that will do the job of preventing you from being exposed to harms, mostly in the form of bodily injuries. Some say it is especially important that one eats a little when one feels like eating egg or meat. Those two are considered to result in most harmful effects if not eaten. Of course, my personal belief is if you just say 'tapun' a few times (with emphasis on the word), you'll be out of harm's way!
There are many variants of 'tapun'. I've heard of 'tudu bangat lapas puhun' (which is something like 'touch one's fill (food) and out of harm's way'), 'tudu bangat' (touch the food that fills), and 'tapun', the most commonly used.
In the Dusun household, children acquire the word unconsciously if they live in an area that is predominantly Dusuns. A culture acquired that way is hard to get rid of (not that I want to). Just the other day I caught myself and a group of friends (who have lived out of Malaysia for years), saying the word a few times when discussing Hari Raya foods that our family and friends must had been having right then back home. Hmm...Hari Raya season away from home sure makes one say 'tapun' over and over again.