23 September 2012

Lyrical prayers

I think the closest persons to language teachers in the olden days in the Dusun community were the bobolians. To be one of them, one has to go through a few stages of learning and memorizing prayers for numerous occasions. Pronunciation was of utmost importance in saying a prayer. Should a bobolian mispronounced a word, leave out a part, or leave the prayer unfinished, the wrath of the bad spirit would cause her and her family members to be sick. And the length of the prayer ranged from three minutes to one hour! Imagine, saying a one-hour prayer without a single mistake in pronunciation, words, and phrases. I would have failed miserably... Anyway, as I read through old research notes, suddenly I appreciate the beauty of a prayer that a bobolian was kind enough to share. What lyrical prayer! It's the prayer for protection. The ritual involved releasing the bobolian's spirit to soar like an eagle to seek the Creator's blessing, carrying with her a rock, a wooden stick, and some water. Upon reaching the Creator she'd ask for His blessing to be imparted on the things she brought, and the Creator would say: Onuo ilo pampang om puruto ilo dandas (so pick up the rock, pick up the rock) - pampang/dandas = rock (synonyms) pampang turu sonsusun (seven rocks arranged together) dandas walu sonsugo (eight rocks arranged together) - sonsusun/sonsugo = in an arrangement (synonyms) om onuon nu'd poningolig (and those taken to protect) puruton nu'd poningobon (those taken to protect) - poningolig/poningobon = things used to protect(synonyms) There's a lot of meaning repetitions, using different words to emphasise the intention I presume. The rest of the prayer is very long, and beautiful...I like the bit where the Creator said: Ogumu noddi narangkai nu, (you have collected a lot [of blessing]) asapou noddi naraut nu (you have gathered heavy [blessing]) anu 'lo poposdu (get some of the cleansing water) purut dilo lituntug (get a bit of the cleansing water) ... and empowered her to use the water as 'holy water' to get rid of illnesses. Sometimes I wonder how would it have been had I lived in those days...

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