I am an Iban, residing at Miri for past a decade ago, originally, from Batang Oya, Sibu. In Iban there is a special word to describe it. It is ‘bejalai’, which means, you start a journey away far from home, take your own time, to gather all the knowledge and fortune seeking all along the journey. Some will return home, while others will take an opportunity to built a new settlement in a new area, which promise a better place to ‘cultivating’, ‘planting’ and also do ‘hunting’.The earlier Iban also well known as ‘the headhunter’, for they do ‘ngayau’.
My name, Janggang was named after my late ancestor, the father to my grandmother, Beragai. That is how Iban gat their name. Normally, they will look into the ‘life’ of our great ancestor live through all the way, before considering their newborn son with particular ancestor ‘name’. Iban believe their ‘tuah’( good fortune) will ‘help’ this newborn journey into this world.
On my birth certificate, I was born on the 23rd day of May, 1974. Actually, the early Iban do not have a very particular timeframe management such as calendar. To my experience, they counting time (i.e year) by remembering the number of ‘umai’ (paddy field) they have cultivated ever since. For instants, if I am asking for my actual date of birth to my beloved parent, they will come out with an answer, ‘taun bumai ba anu-anu’ (the year when we cultivating padi at this so on and so on area). Yes, Iban know one circle of paddy planting seasons, from the day clearing the jungle, burn it, plan a paddy, do the daily chore at the field, cultivating, that is a year in roman calendar. Its all ended up with a Gawai Celebration, which is now celebrated 1st june every year.