Gawai brown packets make debut

A new practice: Shop assistant Ziana Narani showing the brown packets created for Gawai.

SIBU: The trend of giving out ang pow packets during Gawai is catching on among the Dayak community.

But unlike the traditional Chinese New Year red packets or Hari Raya green packets, the Dayak community will be giving out money in brown packets.

Hua Ing Stationery Company owner David Lau said the special packets were being introduced for the celebration this year.

“All stationery shops in Sarawak started selling them since last week, after Raya.

“They were created by a company in Kuching, which is distributing them to shops statewide,” he said.

“As it is something new, there is no special name for it yet. People just call them ‘brown packets’.

“Maybe someone will give it a proper name in time to come,” said Lau, who has been selling ang pow and duit raya packets for many years.

He is selling the festive packets at RM2.50 for a pack of six pieces.

What is unique about them is that they come with three traditional Iban motifs: the Pua Kumbu (a traditional patterned multicoloured ceremonial cotton cloth used by the Iban people in Sarawak), a hornbill feather and the “Terabai” or shield.

“I have about 500 packs in stock. Sales are picking up, but if each household in a longhouse buys all three designs, they will be gone in minutes,” said Lau.

He said there were also Chinese people buying them as collectables.

Independent Council of Natives (Icon) founder Bill Jugah lauded the introduction of the brown packets as a sign of racial harmony and religious tolerance.

“I see it as a showcase of the Iban tolerance by adopting the Chinese traditional way of giving ang pow.

“This is similar to the Malays giving green packets. We are not following the Chinese, but more an acknowledgement of their good practice of giving a gift to the children and senior citizens,” he said.

The designs, he added, helped to promote the Iban culture.

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