Book on Kayan religion launched

A book on the old religion of the Kayan community, who are now mostly Christians, was launched today to ensure that the younger ones remember their roots.

Two Kayan shamans, in traditional headgear and costumes, performed the prayers of the Adat Bungan before Ulu Rajang MP Billy Abit Joo launched the book.

"With the acceptance of Christianity into the community, many Kayan have little knowledge of their old religion," he said.

The book entitled, The Old Kayan Religion and the Bungan Religious Reform, is written by the late Baling Avun, a Kayan religious expert and aristocrat.

It was translated into English by Canadian anthropologist Prof Jerome Rousseau of McGill University, Montreal, in 1974. Rousseau is an authority on the Kayan social life, having spending years with the community in the 1950s for his research.

The book later became a text for the Dayak Studies Programme of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.

Baling was a community leader and authority on customary laws. He died in 1976. He learnt about Adat Bungan from religious experts in the 1940s to 1950s when the religion was spreading fast.

One of its main feature was that it removed many burdensome taboos and rituals that had formerly circumscribed daily life.