Ari Muyang (Ancestor’s Day)
A month after Chinese New Year, the aboriginal tribe named Mah Meri at Carey Island (Pulau Carey, Malaysia) celebrate the ancestor’s day (Ari Muyang).
There are 5 villages in Pulau Carey, each celebrate Ari Muyang at different dates.
Some are private ceremony to the community but some are opened to public. The only Mah Meri hamlet that welcomes visitors is the community at Kampung Sungai Bumbun.
When you entering into Pulau Carey, the village is 6.5KM from the bridge. There is a popular seafood restaurant on the left side of the bridge.
The community shrine/altar is on the left entrance before the school. You can park your car and walk about 10 minutes if there is no more parking space at the compound.
The community members normally start their prayre around 8am. Tourists normally advised to come after their prayer to join the dancing rituals (10am).
The prayer in the spiritual hut (Hadu’ Muyang) started late today, so I got to witness the ceremony.
The priest (shaman) started with prayer and sprinkled the rice powder liquid at corners of the hut as well as the statues. Muyang Gadeng is the spiritual guardian of this hamlet.
The priest will use a leafy brush to dab the rice powder mixture (similar to the rice powder used by many Malaysian as a cooling and protective shield for the face, also called bedak paste) on the forehead, palms and hands of the villages.
In turn, the devotees will do the same blessing ritual to the priest.
You can see the Tompoq Topoh performers are wearing clothing made of tree barks and nipah leaf ornaments.
Here are few members of the Tompoq Topoh young ladies.
The mask dance is unique to Mah Meri culture. The Mayin Jo-oh dance in clockwise circle around a cone like bamboo ‘bunot’.
The gentleman behind the mask:
Mah Meri tribe is famous for their wood carving in Pulau Carey.
I am grateful to the hamlet of Kg. Sg. Bumbun who open their ceremony to visitors. As a gesture of goodwill, visitors should bring some food for the potluck. Do take note that no meat is allowed. I brought some packet drinks but did not have time to join the refreshment.
The villagers are friendly and warm.
Visitors who like to enter into the spiritual hut should remove their shoes and also a good will to donate money (not mandatory). The event is not a profit making function but so tourists should do their part not to financially burden the kind host who offer free food and drinks.
The first impression of Pulau Carey was the commercial plantation that remove the natural forest from the aboriginal people who stayed here for centuries. Nowadays it is hard to even find good wood for carving. I am not sure how much longer Mah Meri tribe can hold on to their tradition and culture in view of the intrusion of commercialization.
It was one of my goals to witness Ari Muyang in case the ritual is practiced by fewer Mah Meri in the future. A big thanks to the Mah Meri community for their warm reception.