Thursday, June 5, 2008

Coen Festival
by Clement Langet Sabang
Coen ( pronounce as Chowen ) have, for a long time been a major festival among the Kenyah Community. Normally celebrated at the end of harvesting season, to mark the worriors retrned from a successful headhunting expedition. Nowadays, it is fixed on the 1st June every year as a festival of thanks-giving as well as merry making for the Kenyah of upper tinjar, Baram in the Miri Division, Sarawak.
The Coen or Suwen in some Kenyah Kenyah dialects is said to have started since time imemmorial but practice stopped in the 1950's for some unknown reasons. Since then, numerous efforts to revive it failed because resistance from the elderly folks due to fear of taboos usually accociated with it. Others also feared that the festival might contradict the Catholic Church's teaching.However in 1997, after many meetings and discussions, I managed to to persuade the Lg Luyang Cebup, a subgroup of Kenyah to hold one with the intention to have it documented for the Sarawak Museum. Few years later, residents from other longhouses in upper Tinjar expressed interest to have a common festival for everyone. After some discussions between community leaders as well as intellectuals from the Cebup, Uma Pawa' , Badeng, Tebalau, Seping, Lirong and Penan from the respective longhouses, finally , agreed to accept Coen as their common festival. Therefore in 2003, Lg Panah hosted the first common Coen in conjunction with the Gawai Dayak. Then followed by the other longhouses namely; Lg Nuah(2004), Apo Gon(2005), Lg Sobeng ( 2006), Lg Dunin (2007) and Lg Luyang (2008).
The Coen is celebrated by residents from seventeen longhouses under the purview of Persatuan Lemeting Ulu, which is officially knwon as Persatuan Masyarakat Kampung Lemeting Ulu tinjar or in short called PERLU. PERLU , an accronyme mooted in 2003 is taken from the following words: PER (PERsatuan), L(lemeting), U (ULU) . the shorten name made it easier for everyone to refer to this associaiton, even among the elderly folks in the village. On top of that, the word PERLU in Malay refers to soemthing 'very much needed'. The meaning means a lot to all the members, because the various ethnic groups form the upper Tinjar hardly have a common paltform to cater for their socio-economic struggles. As such, one of the objectives of PERLU is to nurture the social cultural activities of the area. Thus, Coen is one of the activities that the associaiton have been actively celebrating over the years. every year the longhouses concern take turn to host this big event.
Meanwhile, in 2006 the committee members of PERLU agreed to rename the festival into Coen Festival. The rebranding is said to be necessary beacue the term Coen is only understood by people from the above longhouses only. Therefore in order to get a universal appeal, the festival has to be given a new name. This is said to be important for purpose of marketing, beacuse the committee feels Coen Festival has the portential to beacme a unique tourism product for Sarawak in the near future.
Selamat Tuai/Selamat Datang/Welcome

Welcome to Lemeting blogspot, the old name for Tinjar River .Consist of 17 longhouses namely ; 1. Lg Batan, 2. Lg Luyang, 3. Apau Gon,4. Lg Aya, 5. Lg Dunin, 6. Lg Lg Pelawai, 7. Lg Sobeng, Lg Aton, 9. Lg Nuah, 10.Lg Selapun, 11. Lg Pala, 12. Lg Lobang, 13. Lg Puah, 14. Lg Buken, 15. Lg Liau, 16. Lg Kerong, 17 Lg Sebatang, all in the upper reaches of Tinjar River.

Majority people live here are the Kenyah and Penan. The Cebup dialect is spoken mostly by everyone. The Kenyah Community along Tinjar River are united thru their long houses and their unique culture.