Uninvited Guests Welcomed by Ngaju Dayak

Along the banks of the Kapuas river in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan is a village of Ngaju Dayaks. For those who don’t know, Dayaks are Borneo’s Indiginous people. It was our pleasure to visit their village.

VIDEO: Kapuas Dayak

Our first stop was unexpected. Along the Kapuas river is a narrow road with houses on both sides. On the river side, houses are built on stilts to accommodate rising seasonal water. One of the houses was having what appeared to be a party. It was not. It was a gathering to offer prayers for a Dayak Lady who passed away 40 days ago. It was a celebration.

A canopy is erected crossing the road for guests eat, drink and be merry. Enough room is left to allow a small vehicle to pass. It seemed like the entire village was there, which is understandable considering most of them are related.

They are friendly people that I compare with those in the deep south of America. When we attempted to pass through, we were invited to join the celebration, which we gladly accepted. Some were sixth generation inhabitants of the village. The food was traditional Dayak fare which was really good.

The age range of the guests was from 5 months to 95 years. The nuclear family is alive and well here. It’s common to have family members of three generations living under the same roof. Most Dayaks are Catholic or Christian (they distinguish the two). Some are Muslims also, but you won’t find any atheists.

Dayaks are deeply spiritual with a keen sense for what is sacred. Although they do not have much money, I consider them rich. They are not about owning stuff. Dayaks live in harmony with nature and have great respect for their ancestors and traditions. I will never forget their hospitality. We have many new friends in South Kalimantan. <<

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