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Ethnics Of Orang Asli Theology Religion Essay

Lanoh is one of the ethnics of Orang Asli original people from Malaysia. Previously, Lanoh used to be nomads but now many of them stay permanently in Hulu Perak,a district of Perak. Lanoh people are officially classified under the Negrito subgroup but in term of the language they use the Temiar language. Most Lanoh are dark-skinned and have frizzy hair. Their features resemble the Papua New Guinean or east African people.


Lanoh as well as other Semang people remained in low-land areas, Near Malay’s settlement. They prefer to live near river valleys, which is the most foot-hills, The low population density of Lanoh people in pre-resettlement time has caused them to spread between a few principle villages and campsites (basically in Perak area. Among their villages are Air Bah, Tawai, and Cenawi village. Last time, the Lanoh villages and camp[s were small, with a population rarely exceeding thirty or thirty-five people. Last time, they were also had a mobile lifestyle but it ended after Malaysia’s independence (1957). On 1993, Air Bah’s status as resettlement village was finalized when a two-storey mosque was elevated to house Muslim proselytizers during their intermittent to the village.

Within the plan of Malay nation state, the Lanoh way of life , like that of Orang Asli , had undergone remarkable changes , many due to land loss, logging, deforestation, new forms of subsistence and commercial activities. Since 1980’s , the Lanoh people were regrouped and permanently resettled ,primarily in the village of Air Bah. They have been struggling to reconcile these changes with their cultural values and customary of life. Their house has Temiar-style structure which is more stable than their Lanoh-style lean-to-shelters . They prefer to stay in those houses compared to the large government-supplied plank houses. The size of the houses does not necessarily reflect people’s status or ethnic affiliation. In term of life style, people in Air Bah prefer to spend time with whom they feel close , not necessarily their conjugal family members.

Beliefs .

Most Lanoh people practice ethnic religion (66%), 33% of them are Muslims and 1% of them are Christians .They have a belief of naturalism:

Plants and animals energize the own spiritually bestowing upon humans

a humbling experience of bondage and love for nature.

They also practice an unwritten law that all of the animals caught in the forest should suffer no pain in captivity. According to people in Air Bah, a ‘shaman’ is a person who can teach the young people stories and good things about Lanoh. Previously, Lanoh shamans also believed to posses invaluable powers such as they could talk to elephants, the guardian father of the Lanoh, and as guide people in spiritual roads.

Marriage and family

For Lanoh people, they don’t restrict marriage between ethnics or subgroups and they are more linear. They get to choose their own partner and their parents will not interfere in their relationship. If a couple are living together, they are consider married. There is no wedding celebration, but the bride will just have to give some presents to the bride groom and his in laws. Only young couples get divorce and usually, the Lanoh people do not get divorce if they already have a child. They belief that after labor, a woman cannot touch the ground for two weeks and salt cannot be added into their food for two to three months after labor. They also cannot consume oily food.


When someone died, the chief of the village and nearest family members will be told about the news. After the dead body is cleaned, for women, they will put on their jewelries such as ring, necklace and bracelets. Then the dead body will be wrapped in a clean new cloth and then wrapped in a mat. The same procedure applies to a man’s body except they are wrapped without jewelries. At the cemetery, a 2 meters hole will be digged and the dead body will be buried with their belongings. Then two sticks will be placed on their grave to represent where is the head and where is the legs. At the head part, relatives will light a fire so that wild animals wont come near the grave. If the husband died, the wife cannot wears make up for 7 days.


At the edge of the Baling district area, there is an indigenous settlement known as the Perkampungan Orang Asli Lubok Legong. It is located at the Mukim Siong, 13 km from Pekan Baling and 188 km from Bandaraya Alor Setar. This settlement is own by the indigenous people of the Kensiu tribe. Based on the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (2003) information, this settlement is the only one available for the indigenous people of the Kensui tribe, this is the sole Negrito exist in Kedah and generally the peninsular of Malaysia. Due to their resemblance to the Negro in Africa, they are classified as the Negrito.


Based on the research done by Dr. Iskandar Carey (1970), from his visit to the Perkampungan Orang Asli in Kampung Lalang around 1968 and 1969, the Kensui tribe has their own settlement. Even though the early history had stated that they lived in norm. This tribe was said to have the smallest number of people compared to the other orang asli tribes in Malaysia. There were also said to be the oldest tribe.Basically the Kensui tribe was said to have family relations at Kampung Rai, Yala, Thailand.While based on the facts, the Kensui people orinigated from Kuala Kedau and Ulu Legong. During the Japanese invasion to Tanah Melayu between 1941 and 1942, the Kensui tribe had escaped all around the Baling district mostly to the Parit Panjang, Kampung Bendang Man di Sik, Kampung Sg. Celak and Kampung Tiak di Kupang, Baling. Nowadays, settlements have been build by the government which is the Perkampungan Orang Asli Kampung Lubuk Legong. The Kensui tribe has been residencing there since 1957 at the No 3623 lot which was offered in the year 1958 as the Rezab Orang Asli with an area of 428 acres.

According to M.W. Tweedie, a historian had stated in his book “Pre-History”, those who live in the peninsular which are known as the Negrito had existed since 8000 BC living in caves and hunting animals. During the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic period around 5000 BC, Kedah was used to be inhabited by the Austronesia which became the ancestors of the Negrito, Sakai and the other tribes. It’s hard to describe the physical characteristics of the Negrito due to their division into 4 subgroups of the Kensui tribe known as Mos, Nakil (atau Dalem), Hetot and Tanjen. Overall they have fine-small curly hairs, dark in colour skin and average height of 5 feet below, they have wide iris similar to the West African and most of them are similar to the New Guinea indigenous, Papuans.

The identity of the Kensui tribe can solely be described by their culture, material and their life style. They show little to none agricultural practise. This may be due to their origin as one of the fully nomadic indigenous people. Their culture includes the practice of nose piercing and residence build for temporary shelter from the weather and wind. The Kensui tribe moves from one place to another for hunting and scavenging food as well as forest materials. They would move to another place if they found that the area is no longer productive.

Work arrangements

For the adults of the Kensui tribe, rubber tapping is one of their daily routine. The Projek Getah Mini Estet Fasa 1 dan 2 conducted through RISDA was a success for them. The society gained interest of RM200.00 per month for each family. But there are still among them that are unable to perform the work. Besides that, The Kensui tribe are still practice scavenging forest material to be sold to the outside society and for their own usage. They also have skills producing various handcrafts form the forest materials. Some of the people also work as labour in farms.

The society of the indigenous people from the Kampung Lubuk Legong are under the supervision of the pentadbiran Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (JHEOA) Perak dan Kedah operating in Ipoh, Perak. While at district level, it is under the pentadbiran Pejabat Hal Ehwal Orang Asli Daerah Hulu Perak dan Baling operating in Grik, Perak. In every village, a leader was appointed as the ‘penghulu’ among themselves to hold the responsibility of governing the village and a Jawatankuasa Kemajuan Kampung (JKKK) was established to help the government. For now, the title ‘penghulu’ is hold by Encik Rosman Bin Isa. He is the fourth appointed ‘penghulu’.

Education level

The education levels among the Kensui tribe are extremely low compared to the other indigenous tribes. The numbers of educated people are too little. According to the ‘penghulu’ of the tribe, the year 2005 has been a history to them for one of them had successfully graduated from a form 1 level education which was the highest level of education until now.

Marriage customs and family institutions

The life concept which prioritised equality and similarity reflects from the whole life style of the society. Most of the Kensui societies in the settlement have a close relation with each other. There are only two people that had married a Malay woman from the ‘Kampung Baru’ and one had married an Indonesian. Those who are Islam in the Kensui tribe gets married based on the ‘syariat’ and the law of the Islamic family.

Their marriages were conducted by the religion officer from the Jabatan Agama Islam Negeri Kedah. While for those who are practising animism, their marriages are based on their believes. There are no ceremonies held for the marriage. When a man reaches a time of age where he would like to be married, he just need to get the approval of the women he wants to marry without needing the blessing of both of her parents. If the woman agrees, the man would send her materials in the form of cloth, knife and tobacco to the woman’s father as a sign that the marriage was on. Later on they would live together as a sign they have married. In the family system of the Kensui society, the family relations are bilateral meaning that it is based on the decent of both parents based on the men’s generation

There are still abstinence ban practices until now in the family institution of the Kensui society, such as bride is not allowed to interact with the groom and vice versa. The groom is also forbid to interact with the mother-in-law, while the male and the female relatives which are not married are forbidden to interact with their sister and brother-in-laws, nor to speak of their names. They would use an intermediate for any interactions required with the father and the in-laws. Marriages between people of the same tribe are normal but there are some that had married with the Temiar tribe from Perak. Most of the Kensui people are Muslim, 163 of them had convert to Islam while 80 of them remains with animism. They have their own tradisional cultural performance know as the ‘Sewang’ dance. During the performance, they would wear clothing made out of plants a head ornament made out of coconut leaves.

Social organisation

The traditional life of the Kensui combines five to six families forming a group. In most cases, all of the family members in a settlement or a camp have close family relations or cognate tribe. Each of the group is led by the oldest member, but he does not have any specific title, one of the leaders will be chosen based on the age, experience and knowledge in faith healing care and mysticism factor. The chief will have the power to make decision such as where so set camp and the time to move but it is still subject based on the view and advice from the member that he is leading.

Generally the concept of having a leader is less stressed in the society at group level, they are more concentrate on egalitarian and solidarity. The important element in a social organisation is the family nucleus consisting of husband, wife and child. The settlements for the Negrito are called the “kumpulan tabir angin” where the society would live under a roof as a momentary shelter. They babies would be would cradle in turns during the moving, with every group consisting a husband, wife and child but only the little ones can stay with them. For boys who are older than 7 years old will have a separate shelter not far from their parents, as for the girls will live in the same shelter with their parents but separated by a bond fire between their beds. All of the decision which are made falls under the father’s decision for he is the head of the family

The social organisation of the Kensui tribe in Baling has changed a lot. They have live in kampung Lubuk Lenggong for a long time that the nomad life style has been less practised nowadays. This is due to the existence of a permanent settlement build by JHEOA and supervised by the entire agency. The organisation has also changed, replaced by a settlement unit under the leadership of a ‘penghulu’. The ‘penghulu’ still has his authority to maintain their traditions, but the mode of his appointment has changed based on 2 categories which are descendent and election

The basic requirement for a ‘penghulu’ is that he should be able to read and write the allowance given to the ‘penghulu’ is based on categories which are A, B and C. these categories are based on the development of the members in the academic and so on.


The Kensui people believe are the same as the other Negritos, a large number of them still holds on to their traditional believes. This believes promotes the importance of ‘Tok Batin’, ‘Karei’ and ‘Menoi’ as beings with a ultimate power. The symbol of this power has an eternal nature and it is also regarded as the existence of a supernatural power or a living soul known as the “orang hidup” or the human that lives forever. The symbol of power and the depletion of power between human and those that live forever are called Cenoi. Cenoi tapn has been regarded as the same level with god or sultan. Cenoi Tapn has the characteristics of a mawas (tawo). The top part of his body is young while the bottom part is old. Cenoi Tapn was said to control the life of the Kensui society and that his anger would be conveyed through thunder and lightning (Kaei). This system was preserved and controlled by the authority known as the Halak, which plays a part as the intermediate between the Kensui people with the one that holds the ultimate power in their believes.

Halak also plays a role in the traditional medicine practice. Both system of medicine and religion consist of ceremony known as the panoh, which involves dancing and singing. Another ritual conducted for the same purpose is called sawan, which also combines singing and dancing in the process. The obedience to both of the system is also reflected through the respect, taboos, values and norms of society. The Halak also known as the ‘Tok pawang’ are believed to be able to enter the spirit world by making themselves high. ‘Tok pawang’ was believed to be able to connect with the ‘Chinoi’ and sometimes becomes the intermediate for help in their agriculture. But nowadays, almost half of the Kensui society has convert to Islam.


The Kensui have their own language to communicate. But nowadays Malaysian language has been the language used among them. Almost all of the Kensui people are able to speak in Bahasa Malaysia. Even though the old folks are still rusty in speaking in Malaysian language they do understand the language. There are also small children that are unable to speak in their original language due to the mix marriage and the interaction with the outsiders. Some of them can also speak in Thai language. For those that ave relationship with the Temiar tribe they can also speak their language. Burenhult (2001) states that the commonly inherited words of Kensiu would include basic semantic categories including body parts, certain animal and plant terms, natural phenomena like ‘fire’, ‘stone’, ‘water’, basic activities and states like ‘die’, ‘eat’, ‘stand’, ‘walk’, basic qualities such as ‘big’, ‘small’ , personal pronouns such as ‘I’ and ‘you’ etc. Some of the native Kensiu words for jungle, hill, water tree, leaf and fruits are ‘kaheb’, ‘laheb’, ‘betiu’, ‘tom ihuk’, ‘helik’ and ‘kebek’ respectively. The Kensiu also have rich and diverse lexical items associated with their natural environment particularly, the flora and the fauna. Some of them include ‘awei’ (rattan), ‘ihuk peng’ (gaharu), ‘sieh’ (betel leaves), ‘peyang’ (tapioca), ’emet’ (tiger), ‘pelik’ (bats), ‘ikop’ (snake), ‘kensen’ (fox), ‘jelong’ (flies), ‘nguak’ (butterflies) and ‘awai’ (tortoise), just to name a few. Among the exotic animals caught by the Kensius include the protected species, the Malayan Pengolin, Kensiu term, ‘mantei’. They are normally exchanged for cash to the local Chinese in the nearby town. Known for their aphrodisiac property, they usually fetch a good price.

Malay loan words

Beside those commonly inherited words of flora and fauna, there is also evidence to suggest substantial borrowing of words from Malay language. The findings of this study show that Kensiu language has a high number of lexical items that have been borrowed from Malay. Out of 255 lexical items given to the respondents in the study, 149 (58.4%) of the elicited lexical items were Malay loan words. In addition to this, there are also extensive Kensiu words which are code mixed with Malay words e.g. ‘kutip kebek’ (kutip buah), ‘kumpul awei’ (kumpul rotan), ‘tom bungak’ (pokok bunga), ‘bilik betew’ (bilik air).

The findings of the study also reveal that lexical items that are associated with modern living and technologies are all Malay borrowings. They include ‘pensil’ (pencil), ‘radio’ (radio), ‘telefon bimbit’ (hand phone), ‘bas’ (bas), ‘doktor’ (doctor). This extensive Malay borrowing suggests their ongoing interaction with Malay speakers. It should be mentioned here that the Kensiu community in this study are in constant interaction with the Malays as their settlement area in Lubuk Legong is in close proximity with the Malay villages.


The Malay Island had been inhabited by human that were known as Austronesian or Malay-Polynesia around 5000 years ago according to the historical researchers. They were said to have originated from South of China and Taiwan. Their migration to south was done starting from the Philippines heading towards the Indonesian Islanad until the edge of the mainland Asia, Pacificislands and Madagascar.

The Semai are a semi sedentary people living in the center of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia , known especially for their nonviolence. The Semai is one of the tribes that belong to the Senoi ethnic group. It is thought that the Semai are the remnants of the original, ancient and widespread population of Southeast Asia. According to Keene State College’s Orang Asli Archive, in 1991 there were 26,627 Semai living on the Malay Peninsula. Northwest Pahang and south Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, central mountain area. This number has increased in recent years with the advent of better nutrition as well as improved sanitation and healthcare practices. These numbers, however, does not include other peoples of Semai or mixed descent, most of whom have assimilated into other cultures and have abandoned their ancestral tribal lands in order to seek better employment and education opportunities, especially in the larger cities.


The Semai people speak Semai language, an Austro-Asiatic language belonging to the Mon-Khmer language family. But most of Semai people in Malaysia have knowledge of Malay language and they can speak well in Malay. Semai people are very tolerant person and they did not force other people to do things that they do not like it. For example, the word ‘Bood’ has a very interesting meaning. It means “not feeling like doing something, for any reason, for example, sickness, shyness or laziness”. If it is translated into today’s language, it is simply one of our fundamental rights, ‘the right to say no!’. The children of Semai are taught the concept of ‘bood’ from an early age. If a parent asks a child to do something and the child replies “I bood”, in other words, “I don’t feel like doing”, the matter is closed. The parents would not force their children to do something that they do not want to do.

The Semai’s children

Spirituality and beliefs

Most of Semai people are animist but but a large minority profess Christianity. They are still gripped by their old beliefs. The Semai’s main festival is the Genggulang. It is a festive ritual to appease land spirits for a good harvest where the people worship the rice spirit. In this ritual, the spirit is offered with sacrificial chickens, flowers, and unhusked rice. Nowadays, the festival has lost much of its religious meaning, as it has become more of a cultural event similar to the way Chinese celebrate Lunar New Year or Westerners celebrate Christmas.

Besides that, Chuntah is another festive ritual that is performed to make the evil spirits leave.

Chuntah is performed in the middle of a storm where a man collects rain in a bamboo container until it is full, he then gashes his skin and lets the blood run into the container. The Semai usually have restrictions on eating animals that straddle two groups. Snakes are usually not eaten because moving menhar (animals that lives on the or in the trees) have legs, but snakes live on land, so the Semai consider this “unnatural”.


The day of their marriage, there are several things that the bride and the grooms need to do, which are :

-both of them need to ‘berinai’ at their own houses.

-the grooms needs to cut their hair

-both of them needs to take a bath with a water that contains a few slices of lemon that have been spell for a good reason.

After that the bride and the groom will wear their beautiful wedding dress in their respective houses. The bride will be wearing the wedding dress that have been given by the groom which are called ‘salin tiga’ dress.

Because they have been bath with spiritual lemon water, there are a few orders that mst be followed by both of them ,

-in a duration of 3 days they are not allowed to leave their village because they might be disturbed by the evil spirits.

-in a duration of 7 days also they are not allowed to leave their village for the same reason.

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The bride


When the wife is pregnant, there are a few things that both of the parents must not do to protect the baby and to get a healthy babies.

-They can’t get close to animals that they believe can harm the baby such as tortoise, monkeys, and snakes.

-The father’s family members are not allowed to installing or nailing any part in the house.

-They are not allowed to be near to death people.

-Not allowed to eat venison, pork and partridge meat.

To determine the date of the baby will be born and the health of the baby, the mother will meet the village midwife. The midwife will be the responsible person to stay with the mother until the baby are born. After the baby had born, the mother will abstain for a month. In confinement, the mother are not allowed to eat vegetables, fish without scales , fish that are venomous, chillies, cooking oil, coconut cold water except coffee and warm water. The mothers are only being served or only eat rice with grilled fish or fish that are cooked without oil. They are also not allowed to take a bath with cold water. They can only bath in river after the confinement but need to have a talisman. The ingredients needed for the talisman are a few of small stones, flour and turmeric. The half of the turmeric need to be chew by the mother and spit in the river while the small stones will be seeding in upstream and downstream of the river. Then the mother can take a bath in the river.


When there is a death in the village, all the members of the village will gather around the house of the person who had died and stop their other work because they are afraid that the spirit of the person will get angry. The body will be buried the next day, so at night all the villagers will stand guard at the house of the person who died until morning to make sure that the bad spirit will not bother the dead person. Flame will be lit around the house to chase away bad spirit that cause the dead of the person. The children will be given talisman by smudging charcoal on both of their eyebrows or on both of their sole.

Before the body was buried, it will be wash and wrapped with a new cloth or white cloth then with a mats and it will be buried into a grave of one meter deep. Before overlain, 3 clod of soil that have mix with charcoal will be placed on both of the ears and at the chest of the dead man. It is to cut off the ties between the dead man and his family. If it is not done, they believe that the family of the dead man will fall sick and eventually die. After being buried, a crafted wooden block is placed on the grave as marker then food, water and cigarettes that have been light up are paced on the grave for 6 days. On the sixth day, the crafted wood that were place on the grave is burnt to show that the spirit of the death person has gone to another world. It is then replace by tombstone and one of the family members will hold the tombstone and speak out the death person name to wake up his spirit to fete the food and drinks that have been placed on the grave.

Home and taboos

There are 4 different kinds of houses that the Semai people have in one village, which are :

Yeau Home (Deg Yeau)

Ran Home (Deg Ran)

Bunch of Banana Home (Deg Pisang Sesikat)

Ordinary Home

Furthermore, for Semai people there are a few taboos that they should follow to make sure that they are not being harm by the bad spirits or the Nyanik (demons) and to have a peaceful life.


The Mah Meri is one of the 18 groups named by the Malaysian government “Orang Asli”

living in West Malaysia. They are of the Senoi subgroup. Most of the members of the Mah Meri tribe live along the coast of South Selangor from Sungei Pelek up to Pulau Carey, although there is at least one Mah Meri Community on the other side of the Klang River. According to the Orang Asli Office of the Malaysian government, they numbered around 2200 in 2005.Most of the Mah Meri live in small villages (kampungs) on the fringes of other cities and on Pulau Carey, which has five separate villages of Mah Meri. There is no information on their origin, but the Mah Meri tribe claims to have walked the earth for as long as one can remember. They live in the states of Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca, and Johor. The Mah Meri language, sometimes also called Besisi is one of the Mon-Khmer language groups but has also borrowed from Malay.

Mah Meri Villages

Name of Villages

The Nearest Town

Kampung Orang Asli Bukit Bangkong

Sungei Pelek

Kampung Orang Asli Tg Sepat

Kampung Orang Asli Sungei Kurau

Pulau Carey

Kampung Orang Asli Sungei Judah

Pulau Carey

Kampung Orang Asli Sungei Bumbun

Pulau Carey

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Living in small wooden houses set in harmony with the surrounding forces of nature, the Mah Meri prefer to remain “forest people.” Hence in their villages, life seems relatively untouched by modern progress. They are known for their woodcarving skills, yet their economic activity remains rooted in agriculture and fishing. They resist employment outside of their community.

The Mah Meri are soft-spoken and trusting with a propensity to laugh in the face of adversity. While the adults carry out their daily economic activities, the children often ride their father’s bicycles and play their favorite games with sticks, seeds, and other objects. Surprisingly, the Mah Meri community has managed to preserve a tradition of spiritual woodcarving that is truly world class in terms of quality of its craft and artistry. The art, which has rich mythological meanings behind the images and symbols, is handed down from father to son. As not many people seem interested in such animistic carvings, the young Mah Meri do not see it as a profitable trade.

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Primary religion : Ethnic religion

Major Religions: C:UsersFaizDesktopmah meriimages (3).jpg


0.00 %


0.00 %

(Evangelical: 0.00 %)

Ethnic Religions

67.00 %


0.00 %


33.00 %


0.00 %

Other / Small

0.00 %


Mah Meri also inquire charity ceremony, engagement and wedding as the Malay community. The difference is only maintained their customary ceremonial demon exorcisms in its own way, as well as ritual held to inform the ancestors that their grandchildren will hold their wedding ceremony. The event was considered important to ensure that the marriage ceremony is safe, secure, blessed and happy until the children and grandchildren.

In the suit, ‘Tok Batin’ will see the groom preparations to carry to the proposal such as gold rings, cosmetics, kidney stone bowl and requirements such as mortar and other ceremonial. The bride undergoes sharpening teeth. Sharpen the teeth is considered an important custom made. Use of black cloth as a marker placed on the tooth to be sharpened tooth spacing. Ring will be used to sharpen teeth flat and then smoked. This aims to make the prospective bride is always radiant and prevent tetanus during the wedding ceremony.

Mah Meri play traditional Aboriginal musical instrument to celebrate the bride on marriage. However, the desire of the men would like to have a girl of his choice will be disqualified even if the proposal and the wedding day is set, if the expenses for the purpose of the event is not sufficient. If only in the past three months, the men failed to provide a tight, self agreement is considered void and the groom are doing fraud against ‘Tok Batin’.

As with any other kind of ethnic wedding, they are also making preparations to provide the dais. They will decorate the dais cooperate by putting various patterns woven palm leaves and brightly colored flowers in every corner stage. Touch use palm leaves used by indigenous peoples Mah Meri quarter of uniqueness and difference is displayed with other indigenous tribes in the country. At the ceremony, the wedding ceremony begins with the groom shaman leads a group of girls together turn circles around the bride and smoked nets covered with incense. Ceremony was to cast out demons and avoid bad things. Rotation seven times and on the last lap, the groom should get the bride and flower turns.

When the wedding ceremony, a ritual performed as a symbolic coin toss to determine the direction of freedom bride living in the household. During ‘makan beradab’, monitoring will ensure the bride eat and ended simultaneously so that they live a happy and long lasting household coped. If one of the bride in advance of their meal, it is believed that the commission will invite accidents in the household in the f


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