Story and picture by JEFFREY ELAPA
SEVENTY-THREE youths from villages around Madang have been initiated as men after six weeks going through the traditional rituals of manhood.
Returning from the mulung, the traditional Riwo men’s house, after learning traditional rituals, the young men were bestowed with the powers and disciplines as those required of men.
It was a time where the young men stayed away from their parents and when they were out in the men’s house, they were required to sacrifice and go without food and water.
The initiation ceremony occurs every year during the Christmas period and as soon as all schools are closed.
After six weeks of going through all the steps and processes of the mulung, they ‘boys’ come out as men.
The final part of the ceremony was the sharing of food and gifts where the relatives of the young men brought gifts for their sons to present to their guides during the initiation.
Village chief Sir Angima Bilas said this was the Riwo and the Madang culture for young men to go to through the mulung ceremony in order to be called men.
He said the mulung had been a way of life for their Bel group of villages for many centuries, adding that the initiation was not restricted to Riwo’s 12 clans, but it was open to young men from other parts of province and the rest of PNG.
Sir Angima said it was important the young men were taught to be disciplined and have respect for others and their properties, adding that law and order problems were an important lesson given to the young men.
He explained that the mulung was very strict and village leaders and chiefs provided for the young.
Sir Angima said out of the 12 clans, the Binhari and the Siazagas clans had the powers of the mulung although others supported during the ceremony.
He said the young men would still be guided by the chiefs and elders until after two weeks when they would return to their parents.
Until then, he said the young men would have to cook their own food.
According to sources, several other villages in the province also came out of the men’s house this week.
One of them was from the neighbouring Siar village.