Lying on a woven mengkuang mat in their sarongs, 10 boys of the Jahut community waited anxiously last weekend for the circumcision ceremony to start, marking their first steps into adulthood.
The Jahut are part of the Senoi tribe of indigenous people collectively known as “Orang Asli”. The mass circumcision was the highlight of “Kerjak-Mengerjak”, a two-day event full of rituals that brings the community of Kampung Paya Mengkuang together.
The boys, aged from 10 to 13, were dressed and treated like royals, with makeup and in complete traditional attire; Baju Melayu with Tanjak (traditional Malay headgear), ornamental sash draped over the shoulders and the keris or dagger tucked behind the waist.
Each family who chose to be part of the biggest ceremony for the Jahut community had to pay around RM1,600, to cover various ritual’s expenses such as making sacrificial offerings of chickens, ritual dances where a non-stop music with traditional percussion instruments played throughout the night and transportation to bring the boys to their ancestors’ graves to pay their respects.