Making Amends with the Naga-Serpent
Published: 19 March 2015
For the past few years the Temiars of Kuala Wook in Gua Musang have been celebrating the Sewang Selombang to appease the spirit of the serpent-dragon (naga) that is said to inhabit the waterways in their territory.
Usually, this is done on December 28 each year. But the devastating floods last year prevented them from doing so, and it was subsequently held on January 28.
Apparently, the naga was not too pleased with that and so another was held on February 28 to make amends.
It is important to do the ritual, because it means you recognize that the waters and the land are inhabited by spirit-owners and spirits-in-residence. You wouldn't want to disturb their abode simply because you will anger them and suffer their wrath. And destructive floods are just one of the ways they show their wrath.
For this reason, the Temiars seek to guard the continuity and sustainability of the environment, taking from it only what is needed. They would not do anything that would destroy it – and so anger the guardian spirits. This is what the Temiar religion teaches. And this is what most (traditional) Temiars still believe in.
But the environment in the Gua Musang area has been persistently violated and continues to degrade quickly with each passing day. And it is not the Temiars' doing.
They feel they suffer the consequences because they were not able to stop the encroachments and the destruction. And the river-naga in particular is disturbed with this situation. Hence why it unleashed the floods.
Strict rules had to be followed during the sewang selombang trance ritual. Only those invited could attend, even if they were Temiar from other villages. During the 3-hour ceremony, no one could enter or leave the sewang house, no flash photography allowed, no speaking loudly, and more.
The sewang selombang event was also a revival of sorts of Temiar culture and spirituality. Led by the chief shaman Along Busu, and assisted by the mendut Jimni Angah, another 10 shaman-trainees were also undergoing their induction as shamans. The latter would stay for another two nights for more in-depth coaching and teaching.
[Photos by Colin Nicholas & Koong Hui Yein]
CN-COAC | 19 March 2015
More images of this event can be viewed at this photo album.