GET TO KNOW THE TRADITIONS AND CULTURE OF THE SEA ANCESTORS’ DAY CELEBRATION
Symbol of Dignity and Identity of Mah Meri
The culture and heritage of the state of Selangor are the tourist attractions either domestically or internationally that have been consistently highlighted to maintain the unique socio-culture in Selangor. The state of Selangor has 74 indigenous villages consisting of the Mah Meri, Temuan and Semai tribes. Tourism Selangor had the opportunity to participate in a Cultural Exploration of the Sea Ancestors Day documentary by students from the Faculty of Arts and Cultural Management from the National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage (ASWARA) and delve into the unique culture of the Mah Meri tribe which is one of the state’s tourism attractions.
Delve Into The Uniqueness Of The Mah Meri Tribe
The Mah Meri tribe, which is known for their mask carving craft, has been living in the Carey Island, Selangor, for the past 300 years and now consists of 5 villages in total. The art of mask carving by the Mah Meri tribe is likened to their lives that embody spiritual meaning, which is used in various ceremonies, including worshipping, treating the sick and avoiding misfortunes.
The uniqueness of Mah Meri carvings in the form of gods, humans, plants and animals has been recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the handicrafts purchased from this area holds its own UNESCO certificate of authenticity. In addition to the tangible arts produced by the Mah Meri tribe, traditions and heritage which are considered intangible arts, are very valuable and play a very important role in the Selangor tourism industry.
Sea Ancestors Day Celebration
The Sea Ancestors Festival is celebrated by the Mah Meri tribe every year after the Chinese New Year, which is held with the aim of asking for protection, forgiveness and well-being of the families and the community surroundings by paying respect to the ancestors and the spirits of the ancestors during the new year. The festival, which lasts for five days involves several ceremonies such as;
I. Day One: Celebration Ceremony of Datuk Panglima Hitam
II. Day Two: Preparing to decorate Balai Moyang with weaved leaves
III. Day Three: The ceremony of calling the ancestors and tepung tawar
IV. Day Four: Parade to the Teluk Tanjung River for the Sea Ancestors’ Birthday ceremony and feasting on food in the Sangga for the spirits of the Ancestors in every house in Sungai Judah Village and asking for blessings in the sea and rivers around Carey Island
V. Day Five: Parade to Bangkong Beach to celebrate the Sea Ancestors Day and Jo’oh dance performance for visitors
A group of third-year Bachelor’s degree students from the Faculty of Arts and Cultural Management from the National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage (ASWARA) have taken the opportunity to record a documentary titled Cultural Exploration of the Sea Ancestors’ Day for five days, supported by several partners such as Tourism Selangor, Kakiseni, Arkib Negara, the Department National Heritage and the Department of Museums Malaysia. This Cultural Exploration Documentary of the Sea Ancestors Day was screened at Jalan Ampas Cinema, LokaKarya, ASWARA with a special performance from the Mah Meri tribes.
The uniqueness of the Mah Meri tribe is very wide in terms of their heritage and artistic value. This can be seen with the production of handicrafts such as ornaments that are used and sold to tourists during the Sea Ancestors Day that was held this year.
Mej. (PA) Ts. Dr. Zulkifli Ab Rashid, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Cultural Management in a statement said, the uniqueness of this festival celebrated by the Mah Meri tribe needs to be emphasised by all parties so that it remains relevant and becomes a valuable treasure for the country.
With the involvement of local artists, Tourism Selangor is confident that the state of Selangor can achieve its vision of making the state of Selangor a creative industry hub. Tourism Selangor encourages the public, especially tourists, as well as educational institutions, to participate in events such as Sea Ancestors Day to learn more about our local culture and heritage. Visitors can contact Mah Meri Cultural Village directly at https://www.mmcv.org.my/ to get more information before visiting the Mah Meri tribal village on Carey Island.