Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A different name

Daun sireh (betel leave)

There was a time when a Lipat Kajang-ite may be known by another name outside the kampong and by a different name inside the kampong. The name he/she was called outside the kampong must be those officially registered in the Birth Certificate (and the IC) but that in the kampong may be the name or a name that has been changed due to one reason or another. The most common reason why the kampong folks changed the name of the child was because they say the name was not ‘suitable’ for the child because the child became very sickly and they could not find a cure for the sickness. Or that the name had bad meaning as almost all Malay Muslim names are Arabic but when translated into Malay they mean something shameful to the family. Or that the spelling was wrongly written (due to the ignorance or carelessness of the Registrar or confusion over local slang). But such cases were rare.

When a name was unsuitable, the family would decide to change the child’s name. Unfortunately most of these new names were not registered with the Registration Dept. so in all official dealings the registered names were and are used. That was and still is the reason why outside the kampong they always use the registered names, suitable or not.

When the family decided that the name must be changed, they would all suggest names that they might want the child to be called. They then, with the assistance of the elders, would write each name on a ‘sireh’ (betel) leave. Then all the ‘sireh’ leave were put on the floor infront of the (sick) child. The child would be goaded to pick one of the ‘sireh’ leave with the name on it. Whatever ‘sireh’ leaf the child picked up then the child would be known by that new name on the ‘sireh’ leaf that the child just picked up by the family. He/she would be called that name in the kampong by the family, by the nearest relatives and by the kampong folks. Untill the child goes to school then he/she would be registered by the registered name in the Birth Cert., but he/she would still be known in the kampong by the ‘sireh’ leaf name. When he/she goes outside the kampong, no one would know if the ‘sireh’ leaf name as he/she would go about under his/her registered Birth Cert. name.

When he/she gets married, he/she would register his/her marriage under the registered name. And all his/her children will be named after his/her registered name.

Now what happens when he/she dies. The death cert will probably have his/her registered name, but his/her other name … well I don’t really know whether they in the kampong will still use his/her ‘sireh’ name when they read his/her after death speech.

A strange culture. Not really, unless an outsider is looking for him/her in the kampong then he/she will never be found as he/she may not be known by that registered name in the kampong.

Lipat Kajang people (or decendents) are encouraged to participate& contribute (Orang Lipat Kajang, atau keturunan, di jemput memberi sumbangan idea)

1 comment:

  1. Name, what is in a name? you can name yourself, your mosque, your house, your village, your community, your faith, your belief, your computer files, your associations, etc. - anything acceptable or otherwise, up to you.
    For instance if a baby is named "Yasmin" meaning jasmine, the mother who chose the name is not stating that she IS a jasmine stone or even that she has the attributes of a jasmine; such a name is a permissible name because the item itself, the jasmine, is not forbidden.
    I have a name, my father gave me at birth, but that name was later found not suitable for me, I fell sick (ill) very often and the family as a whole turned from harmony and “good lucked” into disarray and misfortunes, so I was told much later when I had reached puberty age.
    A few months old as a baby, my parents had changed my name, surname that is, and surprisingly (by God’s grace) I became well and never fell ill again. The family too somehow became more stable in the sense that many household problems could be resolved to make everyone live more comfortably with the prevailing situation (enough padi in the kapok, enough ikan talang kering in the kitchen).

    Yes, changing of name for a baby for any reason whatsoever connected with good (or bad) omen may sound superstitious but there you are, in a traditional rural family it happened to me, my birth name was changed to another name (given another name), beginning with the same initial, and I am thankful to God that my parents have changed my name., and I am happy with my name.
    Whatever is my name does not matter as long as people can identify me with that name out of a whole big flock of human beings on this earth, and many people, I later found out, have the same name as mine, exactly the same, forename (given name) and surname.

    We only need to be thankful to God Almighty for who we are and what we are on this earth that He has created.