Sibir al-Khail (Horse Sibir) which is also known as Sibir al-Nahr (fire sibir) is one of the important sibirs practised by the Ajunk tribes, which includes Kadru, al-Gulfan, Dilling, Debri, al-Karku, Kujoria, Fandag, Wali, Tabag, Abujunok and Shifra, who are living in Dilling area. This sibir in the Ajank language is called "Bithouri" which means ‘gentle treatment’. The kujur, a spiritual person, is responsible for declaring the beginning and the closing dates of the sibir ceremony.
Usually this Sibir starts in mid-September and continues for a whole month. The significance of this sibir is to show how important the horse is to the Ajunk people and there is strong spiritual relationship between the two. In Kadru, one of the Ajunk tribes, Sibir al-Khail is known as ‘Kogukanjama’. The new horse is kept outside the village until the time of sibir and during this time the horse will be fed with milk. The Horse is then taken to the Kujur’s house for a special ceremony and will be decorated with coloured beads which are sewn into the leather harness together with Orchid feathers. The Kujur will use the branch of a special tree containing green leaves to spray water onto the horse, the owner and the people present.
Al-Karku tribe usually perform their sibir in February and the new horse is taken to the house of the Kujur known as ‘Sheisheron’ who is responsible for roads. The horse will remain in the Kujur’s house until the time of the ceremony and a day before the ceremony is conducted by Kujur the horse is decorated and also large quantities of food and ‘marisa’ (local beer) are prepared.
On the day of ceremony the wife of the horse owner will bring ‘marisa’ in a large pot while the husband will bring a goat to give them to the Kujur at the gate of his house. At the same time the Kujur gives them their horse. They take the horse to their home where they are many people waiting to celibate the arrival of the new horse. The horse is handed over to the brother-in-law who would hold it at the front gate until the next morning and during this women are singing and people dancing and rejoicing too. They all eating and drinking marisa (local beer) and dancing through the night.
Next morning the horse is taken for a racing test with other horses. Usually before the race the horse is decorated and the owner wears his best cloths and so too his wife who wears her gold and jewels. The wife will come and hold the horse saddle, pretending that she wants to mount the horse. She will repeat this action three times then after that the husband mounts the horse and sets off for the farm. The wife will carry a large pot containing ‘marisa’ followed by her husband on the back and behind him come the champions mounting their horses. They be followed by women and the rest of the people singing, dancing and rejoicing. When they reach the farm the horse owner will dismount the horse and cut one sorghum plant right from the root and his wife will come and pour water at that hole. They will then return to the village and will be received by many people who have been dancing and rejoicing and waiting for them to come back. They find food containing goat meat, dry sorghum seeds cooked with sesame and porridge prepared by the young ladies ready. The people will be served with the food and the horse owner will for the first time eat this food because he was not allowed to eat anything except milk and porridge during the period until the sibir is carried out.
Kujoria ‘Sibir’ is performance slightly different from that of al-Karku. The new horse owner will take the horse to one of his mother’s side relatives or to a friend. He will then fix the date for the celebration. But before the ceremony takes place a large quantity of food and ‘marisa’ and water will be prepared. On the day of sibir the horse is brought to the owner’s house in the evening. His wife will put around herself a large piece of cloth which goes around her waist, shoulder and chest and she will then hold the horse by its reins and drag it into the house yard where her nephew is waiting to take over from her. He will hold the horse until the next morning while people continue signing, dancing and rejoicing throughout the night. The next day the horse is taken to race other horses who are invited to this occasion.
Dilling tribes celebrate ‘Sibir al-Khail’ by taking the new horse to the Mek’s (king) house where it is kept for one week. During this time the wives of the Kujur and the Mek will make five strong strings from cotton (if the horse owner’s first child was a boy, but if the first child was a girl they will make four strings). They will tie it together with ostrich feathers around the horse’s neck. The Kujur’s wife will then try to put her foot into the saddle, followed by the Mek’s wife who will do the same. And after that the horse owner will then mount his horse. He will give the Mek a bracelet made of silver and the Kujur a goat.
The people in Dilling usually celebrate ‘Sibir al-Khail’ by keeping all horses in a ranch for the whole rainy season and before they are allowed to come out for sibir large quantities of milk are brought to the Kujur’s (al-Are) house to prepare cream which is to be used by the Kujur in the ceremony. On the day of sibir each person will bring five bundles of sorghum to the kujur’s house if the first child of the horse’s owner was a boy but if she was a girl they will only bring four bundles. Out of these bundles they will prepare ‘marisa’ and cooked seeds from sorghum mixed with sesame. When everything is ready the horses are released and taken to the kujur’s house where the kujur will rub the cream being prepared on their chests and onto the new horse owner and other horse riders. They will then be allowed to mount their horses and set off for the farms where they will stay for two days before returning to the village. On these two days people will continue signing, dancing and rejoicing. At this occasion young men can choose their future wives from the girls present at the ceremony. On the following Friday the chosen girls will follow the Kujur, who will touch their heads outside of his house where many people are gathering as a sign of blessing. Bulls and goats are slaughtered and food is prepared for the guests.
It is noted that the Ajunk tribes consider ‘Sibir al-Khail’ as one of the most important sibirs in their traditions and customs. They used this sibir for burying their dead persons and also celebrating the coming and the going of New Year. It is important to know that Ajunk people are great horse lovers. They care so much for their horses because they constitute an important part of their cultures and traditions.