Ubarr Ceremony (Ubarr Dance)
The Ubarr ceremony relates to a ‘clever man’ called Yirrbardbard who killed his promised wife and her mother by transforming himself into a snake and biting them. In the Ubarr Ceremony an inner circle of men start the dancing and an outer circle of men complete the sequence.
Women play several roles associated with the ceremony. A group of young girls dance in one section of it and are not allowed to view any other part of it. Older women make a camp away from the ceremonial ground and prepare food for everyone. They send old men up to the ceremony with food for the participants.
Young male initiates stay with the older women until it is time to go the ceremony. The women then farewell them, weeping and trying to hold them back. The women are concerned that Ngalyod the Rainbow Serpent will become angry and hurt their sons during the ceremony.
When the sounds of singing and ritual calling drift down to the women’s camp, they clap their hands repeatedly over their mouths and call out, ‘gaydba’, ‘gaydba’ at the same time thrusting their digging sticks into the ground and stamping their feet in their own sacred dance.
At the end of the ceremony the initiates are immersed in water and sent back to their mothers who rush out to greet them with loud cries of thanks that they have returned from their ordeal unharmed.