Any wedding of the Kadazandusun in Sabah, especially one held at not at a hotel is incomplete without the orchestra of Gongs and a lady captain known as the Papaapasazau.

Papaapasazau could be an equal to the Event Floor Manager who is busy keep running around throughout the whole program to ensure the events is entertaining and successful.

Gong Beating

Description of a Papaapasazau would be – most of the time it is a she with 2-3 assistance, someone who knows most of the guest list, someone who knows who is married and who is not, someone who is persuasive enough that could make people to go on the dance floor with a stranger (or maybe not), someone who has a very sharp eyes that she knows that you do not want to go on the dancing floor.. 🤣

Sandang: the pom-pom in the white circle and the crossed sash on the girl body.

So what exactly the role of a Papaapasazau? She would randomly picked a set of ladies and men to go on a dancing floor to perform the Sumazau dance. No, she won’t ask you whether you want to Sumazau or not or whether you are ready or not; she would just leave you with the ‘Sandangon‘ and ‘Husob‘. Sandang means you need to carry something on your shoulder. For the men, it’s usually a large and light weighted pom-pom made from a dried plants and for the ladies it’s usually a folded cloth made into a sash (Husob). Once the Sandangon and Husob laid on your shoulder or lap, you need to get up to the dance floor when the gongs start beating.

Who is going to be your dancing partner? Well, you just find the next available space in front of any men or ladies. And you can choose who you want to be partner with. In the olden days, Sumazau session is the only occasion where you could arrange a brief meet-up with someone who had a crush with or with your going to-be husband or wife. In todays term, Sumazau session is your only chance for a very short and brief dating. On another light, the Papaapasazau perform the duty of a match-maker.

Modernised sash/Sandang/Sandai in printed ethnic motifs

For those who are new in Sabah, we do not voluntarily to go on a Sumazau spree during a wedding reception except during the ‘family time’ when all the guests has left. You need to be picked by the Papaapasazau to be on the dance floor and it is an honour actually to be chosen. However, for some ladies especially the young one, they dislike the idea of being chosen to Sumazau and you might see the Husob being passed around.

So the next time when you are given the Sandangon, do not reject it. Your Sumazau partner could be the one you’re waiting for, especially if you are single and looking for a life-time partner.

6 Comments

  1. Good effort introducing our culture to our new generation.

    1. Thank you for enjoying it. just sharing some auntie’s wisdom. Please pass it on to our next generation.

  2. Selain utk mamaramai majlis,’rupa-rupanya berfungsi juga sebagai match-maker..baru sya tau o! Congrats for this great “research” and documentation.

    1. Thank you. Its not really a research, I would say its more into passing the knowledge from the elders.. auntie’s wisdom

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