Hudoq, the ancestral dance from Mahakam Ulu
Editor: Arum Kinasih, WWF HoB Communication Assistant
This is a story of Dayak people in respecting their mother of nature and earth. About the people who believe that ancestral blessing is a primary reason for a rich land. A dance offering to the earth and ritual requests to the Almighty God, so that their agricultural products are given abundant results. This is a way for them to give thanks. This tradition is known as Hudoq.
Hudoq is a manifestation of the spirit/god of Hunyang Tenangan, the rice-keeping god sent by the Lord of Apo Lagaan (Heaven) named Ine Aya'. The arrival of the god spirits to the earth is to answer the prayers of men who are doing Menugal, a process of notification to the ancestors and gods that the Dayak tribe will start to plant rice, corn and sugar cane in their fields. To expect blessings from gods, it is not enough just by Menugal, the Mahakam Ulu Dayak will prepare a Hudoq dance which is a hereditary inheritance in their families.
Now, every year, the Mahakam Ulu Dayak who live in Long Lunuk Village, Long Pahangai Sub-District, a village located far away in the Heart of Borneo in East Kalimantan held a Hudoq Pekayang Festival which must be attended by 11 villages there. Hudoq Pekayang is a form of thanksgiving for a single planting month. Hudoq means mask, Pekayang means to visit each other.
Usually every house has a Hudoq mask to welcome the party. The Hudoq mask is made from Jelutung wood and will be inserted with fresh banana leaves to strengthen the impression of a god who blesses life.
According to myth, this Hudoq mask is a spirit creation outside humans, in the local language called Tok Jeliwan Tok Hudoq. Jeliwan means a cobra, tok means spirit and Hudoq means mask. The mask itself is in a variety of shapes, but most Hudoq masks will resemble the shape of a bird.
Because these spirits are great and glorified beings with various forms of their original form, to prevent humans on earth from becoming shocked when they see the form of the spirits, the Hudoq dancers who act as gatekeepers between the Heaven and the Earth make masks to be worn by these spirits when meeting earthlings.
The Mahakam Ulu Dayak tribe believes that these spirits come from the water, the ends of the sky and clouds, the ends of the earth, underground, and some from paradise. The kind of good they carry is various, some of the gods will carry the spirit of rice so that the rice will grow healthy and abundant, some bring the spirit of the hunted animals, so they will be easily hunted by the people, some bring the spirit of the fish to be abundant, some bring the spirit of fruit to be able to have a lot of fruit and some are carrying wealth spirits, health spirits, and others.
On 14-16 October 2018, the Government of East Kalimantan Province will hold a Hudoq Pekayang Festival in Long Lunuk Village, Long Pahangai Sub-District, Mahakam Ulu District, East Kalimantan. At this year's festival, it is estimated that there will be approximately 400 Hudoq dancers participating in enlivening the festival. The Hudoq Festival in Long Lunuk Village is managed independently by the people there who are still steadfast in maintaining their culture and spiritual customs.
In addition, there will also be a Hudoq Cross Border Festival in Ujoh Bilang Village, Long Bagun Sub-District, Mahakam Ulu District, East Kalimantan on 23 - 27 October 2018 with various activities, such as performances from thousands of Hudoq dancers, rowing competitions, and a number of traditional competitions.