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This paper is based on an ethnographic study of the membiaq ritual of the Murut Bokan/Bookan community in Keningau, Sabah. Although the ritual focussed on healing one particular patient, it did not prevent other members of the community to also take the opportunity to be helped and healed by the main babalian. The study was a juxtaposition of contrasts and contradistinctions for it was based on both the curing aspects of healing a sick man and an insight into the “celebratory” nature of a community’s intoxicating get-together. The curing of the patient was juxtaposed with the coming together of some members of the community engaging in an esprit-de-corps, a camaraderie,  through a communal get together cemented by smoking cigarettes, the eating of food and the drinking of tuaks, (the locally brewed, fermented and intoxicating drink), accompanied also by a lavish supply of canned beers. The field research highlighted this juxtaposition between a ritual of healing and a communal get-together which ultimately served to strengthen the curing of the patient and by extension the healing of the emic community at large This paper describes the rituals involved in the curing of an elderly sick patient, the paraphernalia used, the offerings offered, the closure of the ritual and the prohibitions or taboos involved to safeguard the patient and the community at large. During the night, the ritual was initially conducted by the main babalian, (a ritual specialist) and her helpers in the main area/hall of the patient’s house, but in the morning the curing process was moved to a different “performing” space outside of the house to continue and facilitate more rituals to be conducted so as to ensure the safety of the patient and the community. The paper concludes by situating the membiaq ritual within its own whirlpool of diminishing babalian practitioners and the modernization of the community.  

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Solehah Ishak (Malaysia) 13689
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