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Ancestor's Day

Ancestral Day is a celebration of the greatness of the Orang Asli community rather than the Mah Meri ethnicity, especially around Sungai Bumbun Village on Carey Island.


The Mah Meri community will hold a special day of worship for the "ancestor of the sea" or called "coastal puja" which is welcomed on a date determined by the village traditional institution according to estimates based on the Chinese calendar. This ceremony is carried out on a large scale by the villagers who are chaired by the handler. They will march from the village to the seaside to the accompaniment of traditional music hammering to start the ceremony to worship the beach. Ancestral Day is believed by the Mah Meri tribe as the day their ancestors from other worlds came down to visit the earth.


Traditionally, the ceremony began many years ago based on a legend that has existed about 200 years ago where a barge carrying passengers and goods was caught in a big storm on Carey Island, near Tanjung Rhu, in the Straits of Malacca. None of the islanders thought the ship would survive the storm, but something surprising happened when they saw the barge seemingly being dragged ashore by an unknown force. The villagers believe Moyang Getah saved the barge and its passengers.


On the first day, the Mah Meri tribe will call their ancestors to ask for permission to start a ceremony that aims to ensure safety, sustenance and ask for blessings and longevity. On the second day, the procession will be carried out towards the beach when boats loaded with food are brought to the mouth of the river where the reclaimed rice will be thrown into the water and the people will offer prayers to the ancestors.


During the procession, residents will carry objects called ‘busu’ in addition to multi-coloured flags representing ancestral spirits towards the altar or stage built on the beach. The ceremony is only performed at low tide. During the ritual, the spirit of the ancestors is believed to convey the message of the areas that will be hit by disaster. The handler will then mark these areas with a flag. Mayin Jo-oh's singing and dancing as well as chanting filled the ritual at the altar before ending with a feast provided by the villagers. It is served as an offering to the spirit of the ancestors before being entertained by the ritual participants.


Apart from the residents of the Mah Meri community, now the Ancestor's Day celebration is also open to the general public and the festival is usually an attraction for domestic and foreign tourists.


Venue : Carey Island, Selangor

Jabatan Kebudayaan dan Kesenian Negara

Aras 16, 18, 19, 26, 27, 30 & 34, Menara TH Perdana,

Lot 1001, Jalan Sultan Ismail,

50250 Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03-2614 8200

Emel: [email protected]

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