Examining the Absence of the Phrase “Terima Kasih” in the Dayak Desa Tribe


Examining the Absence of the Phrase Terima Kasih” in the Dayak Desa Tribe


Source: pinterest.ie

Thank you

A simple phrase that colors our daily lives almost every day. Knowing the importance of saying thank you, as parents, we always teach and remind our sons and daughters to always be grateful when they receive something from other people. 

When we want to go to sleep we never forget to pray. Thank God Almighty for the day that has passed and for the blessings He has given. Likewise when you wake up. We thank God again for His protection while we rest.

Now the problem is, what if in an area there are no special phrases or words to convey gratitude?

Dayak Desa Tribe as A Case in Point

This case may be found in all Dayak tribes in Kalimantan. Actually, they have their own phrases or words to convey gratitude. It's just that, in my opinion, the phrases or words used are still similar to the expressions of gratitude in Bahasa. For instances: Tarima kasih, makaseh, makasih, boh.

In Dayak Desa tribe itself, to say thank you we would say: “Makaseh, bah”.

In a WhatsApp group, because the members come from various regions, I asked how thank you is said in their respective regional languages. Here are the various forms of thank you:

-          Manggarai : Tiba Teing

-          Sunda : Hatur Nuhun

-          Karo : Bujur Melala

-          Kerinci : Mokasih

-          Mandarin : Xie Xie Ni

-          Madura : Mator Sekelangkong

-          Batak : Mauliate

-          Jawa : Matur Suwun; Matur Sembah Nuwun (untuk Tuhan dan orang yang dihormati)

Honestly, I was jealous to see that there was a special word in my friends' regional language to say 'thank you'. I started to think, maybe the absence of the phrase or word "thank you" in the Dayak language is one of the reasons why some people think that Dayak people are rude. 

Speak from My Own Experience

I certainly don't blame anyone for thinking that way. Because logically it is correct. There are no special phrases or words in the Dayak language, so Dayak people are naturally confused about how to give thanks.

However, I also want to say that the stigma above is not entirely true. This is not entirely true because based on experience, I have come to the conclusion that expressions of affection vary from place to place. But that expression is very special.

Studying the social context of an area, therefore, would be very important before passing judgment. My experience of two years (2014-2016) serving in Ambalau Parish, Sintang Diocese, might be an illustration that hospitality, expressions of affection in a place are unique, but sincere.

The majority of Ambalau Parish's people are the Uud Danum tribe. In this tribe, there is a unique tradition to welcome every guest who comes to visit their area. Bekumus, that is the name of this tradition.

Bekumus is the act of dirtying each other using the main medium, namely powder. Powder is indeed the main ingredient for becumus, but sometimes there are also those who are mischievous by using charcoal or mud. Please pay attention to the image below. How dirty we are after frozen. But look, we were all overcome with joy.

Is it appropriate to treat new arrivals in such a way? Isn't there a more beautiful and dignified way so that I, in this case, can later feel at home in my term of service because from the start I have been accepted and welcomed politely and properly?

I personally do not feel hurt or offended at all by being treated this way. Because I'm sure, by doing that, they didn't mean to humiliate or embarrass me at all. In fact, that is the deepest and most sincere expression of acceptance from the people. As a result, I was able to spend two years serving in this Parish with great joy.

Maybe there are also those who think that the people in this place are ungrateful. It would be nice if they were given a priest to serve them but instead they were welcomed in that way.

I just want to say, although many of my Dayak brothers and sisters still live in the remote place. Some even still live in the forest. Far from the noise of the city. But I am sure, they are human beings who have hearts and feelings. Know to respect others. It's just that they expressed it all beautifully in their own way.

The Strong Influence of Living Together in Long House

The absence of the phrase or word 'thank you' in the Dayak language once again certainly does not mean that the Dayak people are ungrateful. This fact is actually very much influenced by their way of life when they used to live in the Long House (Rumah Betang).

The atmosphere that is felt and visible from life at Rumah Betang is the high spirit of togetherness and kinship. In this spirit, all work is almost always carried out in mutual cooperation. Every citizen will always be ready to help others without expecting anything in return or wages.

If each other is always willing to help, then why is it so difficult to say 'makaseh, bah'? They say thank you not with words, but with deeds.

In the beduruk activity (mutual cooperation in the rice fields) in the Dayak Desa tribe, for example. When they finished working in the rice fields the members would not say thank you to each other. They will express their gratitude by working totally and responsibly when working on other members' fields.

Likewise in the tradition of visiting each other (berandau) in the Dayak Desa traditional community. People who visit will be greeted in a friendly manner and sometimes offered to enjoy the meal. When it was time to go home, instead of saying thank you, the guest would say: “Kak mupuk lau, bah”. More or less it means: "I want to go home, okay?"

The host did not feel hurt or offended at all. Instead he would say: “Wai...ilak lau, bah. Ngapa begesak?” The meaning is more or less like this: “Come on. Back home later, please. Why are you in such a rush?"

And when the guests have started to leave, the host will say: “Mansang berandau agik, bah. Anang jerak." Meaning: “Please, come again next time. Do not hesitate."

Visiting each other (berandau) has become a habit of Dayak Desa people. The lack of expressions of gratitude from guests even though they have been given food is not a big problem for them. There is no regret or hurt. Their kinship and brotherhood ties will not be damaged. In fact, they feel happy because friends or relatives want to come to their house. Even asking them to come back another time.

When the host offers guests to eat, this action is not just small talk. For the Dayak Desa people, the produce they obtain can never be enjoyed alone. The invitation to eat the dishes provided is an expression of gratitude for the blessings received. At the same time, it is a form of collective prayer so that Petara the Great will always bestow good and abundant agricultural produce.

Final Remarks

Expressions of gratitude are rarely heard in the daily lives of Dayak Desa people. However, this fact does not in the least reduce the spirit of togetherness, kinship and brotherhood between them. However, this fact remains a concern, especially for parents, to always teach and remind their children to be grateful.

This fact cannot always be used as a justification when children forget or are never even thanked at all. This world is inhabited by people from various tribes and cultures. There will be times when they have to wander about to study, work, etc. For this reason, they must be educated and reminded how important it is to say thank you.

Living with Dayak people, it is rare to hear the word thank you. This fact does not deter us from continuing to do good deeds. Our good deeds will one day be rewarded in another way and form. I've experienced it many times in my life as a native priest.

(Gregorius Nyaming)

Next Post Previous Post
No Comment
Add Comment
comment url