THE Dayak Cultural Board in Bengkayang District, West Kalimantan, is planning to conduct a ritual known as ‘Pantabakng Binua’, which is traditionally held to ward off catastrophes, as part of measures to counter coronavirus.

“The traditional ritual is held to repel and prevent any catastrophe, including evil, pests, infectious diseases, epidemics, and anything that can affect plants, humans, and livestock,” Martinus Kajot, chairman of the Bengkayang District Dayak Cultural Board, said in Bengkayang.

He further said that during the ritual, which is also known as Besamsam, the village will be closed down for one to three days.

“Besamsam is normally carried out over one to three days, in accordance with the people’s agreement. The aim is to cleanse the village, repel catastrophes, such as pest attacks, diseases, disasters, and other unfortunate events,” he said.

Given the current situation when the country and its regions are under pressure due to the spread of COVID-19, the Besamsam custom will help diffuse the situation in Bengkayang village or district, he asserted.

Kajot also said he would like appeal to those who wish to survive and save their area to respect existing customs.

“We must respect those who understand the customs. We are not doing it (the ritual) to make a show of our culture to others. This is a tradition we follow in an emergency. Where we stood on land, that is where we hold the sky. If we do that, I am sure we will remain safe from all contagious diseases,” he said. [antaranews]