The Wehea Dayak tribe has lived for generations in the East Kutai area of East Kalimantan, Borneo. Through the Orangutan Habitat Restoration (RHO) program, the BOS Foundation and its partners help the community in Muara Wahau preserve their customs and traditions.
By supporting the organisation of various traditional rituals, we have noticed that the women in the community carry out many special tasks. For example, in preparation for the rice harvest festival or mbob jengea, women are tasked with cooking, dancing and cleaning the village.
“For other ceremonies, like the erau anak (child initiation) celebration, women are responsible for the feeding ritual or the preparation of offerings for the ancestors. This is also the same for traditional weddings”, explains Yulita Leang Long, a resident of Diaq Lay village.
To keep their traditions and culture alive for the younger generation, Yulita tries to teach her children as much as possible. “This includes how to sew traditional Wehea Dayak clothing and learning all the customary dances.”
The biggest challenge in preserving traditions and customs is finding the best way to pass them on. Modern life and the influence of gadgets and technology on the younger generation can eclipse the traditional values inherent in Wehea Dayak rituals. Another challenge is funding, where support from the BOS Foundation and its partners comes into play.
Refusing to give in to these obstacles, Wehea Dayak women strive to provide insight for the youth in their communities whilst preserving traditional rituals. “We keep growing rice, making mats, cooking together for traditional events, dancing during eraus – we do anything we can do”, says Diana Lehong, a resident of Diaq Lay village.
Diana Lehong and some of her friends also try to utilise technology, their ‘adversary’, to their advantage, by promoting the Wehea Dayak culture through Facebook. “We produce our own Wehea Dayak videos and support everyone who posts clips related to Wehea Dayak customs and traditions, as long they have a positive message.”
The Wehea Dayak culture teaches and promotes respect for nature, the importance of working together in teams, respecting elders, accepting differences, and so much more.
Let’s continue to help promote Wehea Dayak customs and traditions!