In a modern world, Gawai Antu – “The Festival of the Ghosts” is a rare affirmation of ancient tribal identity and unity, as the spirits of the ancestors are called to defy the modern erosion of tribal identity and once more bind new generations behind the Iban mind and spirit.
About Gawai Antu and Gensurai Longhouse
According to Mr. Bandang anak Numpang, now 79 years old, he had his first experience at the age of 13, where he helped his brother, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr.) Alfred Jabu anak Numpang, and their parents Mr. Numpang anak Liman and Madam Elsie anak Entring holding Gawai Antu at the raised-on-stilts wooden longhouse at Genting Patikal Gensurai, Layar, Betong in August 1956.
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After staying there for 48 years, his family shifted in 1965 to a new site where a raised on wooden stilts longhouse was constructed at a location called Empran Gensurai, located further down the hill nearer to the Layar River where Mr. Bandang and his family stayed for 47 years.
It was at the wooden longhouse at Empran Gensurai that the Tuai Rumah and the longhouse elders decided to accord gratitude to give respect to honour the good deeds of their dead relatives by holding another Gawai Antu in November 1993. This Gawai Antu was a great success whereby
Mr. Bandang’s late grandfather, Mr. Liman anak Landoh and his late grandmother, Madam Bermas anak Sandom were remembered with full Gawai Antu protocols.
The longhouse felt greatly honoured by the courtesy of the Right Honourable Premier of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg, and his wife, Yang Amat Berbahagia Datin Patinggi Datuk Amar Hajah Juma'ani binti Tun Tuanku Haji Bujang who graced the Gawai Antu.
With sincere appreciation to our honourable guests and thank you very much for abundant blessings of a very successful, incident free Gawai Antu.
After staying for 47 years at the wooden longhouse at Empran Gensurai, the longhouse elders decided to build a modern concrete floor longhouse with accommodation facilities on the upper floor on a properly earthfilled longhouse site nearby Empran Gensurai. The family moved to the 29-door modern longhouse on 4th February 2012.
In keeping with the Iban Adat, Custom and Tradition, in remembering the dead relatives, the longhouse elders once again decided to plan for another Gawai Antu, which after one year of planning the Gawai Antu was celebrated on a very grand scale on 22nd December 2018.
The family participated in the Gawai Antu where they honoured their late father, Mr. Numpang anak Liman, their late mother, Madam Elsie anak Entring, their late grandmother, Madam Bermas anak Sandom and their late nephew / son,
Mr James Entring anak Bandang. The family are very thankful to the very good advice from Temenggong Richard Mulok anak Entring and the former Temenggong Nunong anak Dandan who are very knowledgeable about the Gawai Antu procedures and protocols.
Graced by the Right Honourable Premier of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg and his wife, Yang Amat Berbahagia Datin Patinggi Datuk Amar Hajah Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Haji Bujang, together with more than 4,000 guests from neighbouring longhouses and friends of many nationalities from Sarawak and overseas came to celebrate the Gawai Antu.
Full Gawai protocols such as Ngempi, Nganyam, Nimang Jalong, Bujang Berani Ngirup Jalong, Bujang Berani Ngirup Buluh, Nganjung Raga or Nganjung Garung Ngagai Pendam were reverently observed.
As Gawai Antu has great significance to our Iban Community, it is therefore very important that we the older generations nurture the younger generations of our longhouse people to observe and preserve this very important festival of Gawai Antu to give honour and respect to our forefathers for the good deeds and the legacy that they had preciously handed over to us.