02 September 2011
On Dusun Wedding-again
(pic courtesy of my cousin on his reception day in 2009)
This Raya season, I managed to kill two birds with one stone. I visited an aunty who has only been a convert for about 10 years. I've always found her intriguing, as before her conversion she used to be a healer, even almost a bobolian 'traditional healer'. (She told me she never did reach the bobolian stage, as apparently there's a lot of chants to be memorized and she couldn't do that. Come to think of it, Bobolians must be people who, in modern understanding, have linguistic intelligence among other things). For someone who's not a full bobolian, Aunty R knows a lot of rituals.
Anyway, this time around, I asked her about her wedding day, as part of my project of looking at the changes in the Dusun wedding customs practised in Ranau since the 1950s. It's a bonus that her wedding took place in 1960- just what I'd been looking for to complete my current data of 1950s and 1970s.
By the time she got married, the earlier practice of conducting wedding rituals at night was done away with. In the 1950s, marriages were still pretty much arranged, without the consent of any of the wedded parties. Parents cleverly arranged for their children to be married (and kept it a secret), and on the day of the wedding the ritual would be conducted either against protest from the children, or with their total submission. More often than not, the marriage ended in divorce.
Aunty R agreed to her marriage, being fully aware of what was taking place. When the momuhaboi (asking for her hand in marriage) ceremony was conducted, she was allowed to listen to the discussion and state her 'terms and conditions', something that was unheard of in those years. Her wedding day took place at 5pm, instead of at night, as it was normally done. The two things that didn't change, by her own account, was the tapai (rice-wine) drinking session (they still made a lot of tapai to feast on), and the tondiadi (exchanges of wedding poetic forms).
Indeed, the tondiadi was the signature of Dusun weddings then, but by the time my parents got married in the 1970s, it was all gone.