I just want to celebrate…

The Gawai Dayak is celebrated in Sarawak in East Malaysia on the 1st of June every year. It is a festival filled with merry making, one that is eagerly anticipated by the Dayaks and non-Dayaks alike. The term “Dayak” today refers to the Ibans, the Bidayuhs and the Orang Ulu communities. Traditionally, it is celebrated to mark the end of the rice harvesting season and offer their thanksgiving to the gods and spirits.

Selamat Hari Gawai 2010
*From Fred Kamea‘s photo album on Facebook

In the rural longhouses, the festivity begins on the eve with the traditional ceremonies and chanting of prayers. The community gathers at the main hall or ruai of the longhouse where the tuai rumah or headman will perform the miring ceremony to bring blessings upon the inhabitants of the longhouse. He recites sacred verses as he swings a live cockerel in the air to drive away evil spirits. The bird is then sacrificed and the blood sprinkled over the offerings of food that are laid out on the floor. Grains of rice are then strewn over the heads of those present to protect them from harm. After the miring, the merry-making begins with the feasting and drinking of tuak and the dancing of the ngajat. There may even be the selection of the Kumang, the festival queen, and the male equivalent, the Keling.

Kumang Gawai 2010
*Fred Kamea‘s photo on Facebook

Around the same time, on the 31st of May, the Pesta Kaamatan or Harvest Festival is celebrated in the other east-Malaysian state, Sabah, which lies to the north-east of the island of Borneo. This is the Kadazandusun equivalent to the Gawai Dayak Festival in Sarawak, and certainly bears a lot more similarities than differences.

The Kadazandusun is the largest ethnic group in Sabah. Traditionally, they were farmers whose beliefs centred around rice-planting and harvesting with bobohizan or female priestesses presiding over the rituals. Like the Gawai Dayak, the Pesta Kaamatan is celebrated in honour of the rice spirits to thank them for their blessings. The feasting, drinking and dancing are similar as well, but one unique feature that may be found only in Sabah is the buffalo races. During the festival, visitors will be enthralled by the sight of the beautiful maidens in their traditional costumes bedecked with beads and bangles while the men adorn flamboyant feathers and animal skins. Traditional dances such as the sumazau are performed to the musical accompaniment of gongs, drums and flutes, and the party will go on until the wee hours of the morning.

To all my relatives and friends celebrating the Gawai Festival, “SELAMAT HARI GAWAI DAYAK…Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai, Chelap Lindap Lantang Senang Nguan Menua!” Translation, thanks to Chrisanakapai: Happy Gawai Dayak Day. Long life, health and comfort, no problems, no hardship and a prosperous life. And to those celebrating the Kaamatan Festival, “Kotobian om kounsikaan do tadau tagazo do kaamatan. Bah Aramai ti!” According to my blogger-friend in Kota Kinabalu, Melbie, this basically means: Wishing you a Happy Harvest Festival. Let’s party!!!

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

30 thoughts on “I just want to celebrate…”

  1. Good morning STP… thanks for letting us know.. i also wanna greet my sabahan bloggers and all who celebrate this tomorrow..

    SELAMAT HARI GAWAI DAYAK…Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai, Chelap Lindap Lantang Senang Nguan Menua!

    Yeah, this is a nice greeting, STP…thanks for the translation! 🙂

    See what I mean! West Malaysians can’t tell Sabah from Sarawak but we’re so very used to it already – have met so many like that. And looking at the blur-blur students in our schools today, I would not be surprised that they do not know the Sabah festival…and they would know nuts about Gawai as well. Useless, students these days…(and they can get a string of As in the exams, believe it or not!)

    Sabahans are celebrating Hari Kaamatan today (31st May) and Sarawakians will be celebrating the Gawai Festival tomorrow (1st June).

    The post is actually made up of extracts from a comprehension passage in one of my books for SPM English. Humph! Must go to remedial class liao!!! Hahahahaha!!!!

    1. am so guilty at this – not being able to differentiate sabah from sarawak 😦 while our eastern counterparts can nicely tell us that kedah is up north and johor is down south while KL is in the middle, I kenot tell if Labuan is in Sabah or Sarawak! That is how BAD my knowledge of the East.. sad 😦

      but must admit, am getting better now thankx to the blogger friends I have from the East.. give me some time, I’ll be super clever ! 😀

      Labuan is the Federal Territory (Wilayah Persekutuan), neither Sabah nor Sarawak – it used to be part of Sabah though. Hahahahaha!!!! To be fair, if I ask many of the students about West Malaysia, they do not seem to know much at all. Very sad. They should revise the Geography syllabus in school.

      1. I …. I…. lol… tak study Geography! No wonder I dunno where is Labuan.. hahahhahaha.. phew! *wipe sweat*

        Now must send back to school…or google on internet – the world of knowledge at your fingertips. I google up a lot of stuff – so nice, so easy to find out about anything!!! Not like in the old days – doing research… 🙂

  2. yahor…. happy Gawai to you and family tomorrow.

    it is holiday in sarawak… .

    Yes, TWO days…like Chinese New Year and Hari Raya! Hehehehehe!!!

    1. wah so fun to have a long holiday! i like it very much when i stay at sarawak….

      Yalor…you buang batu, deserted your own state to go and live elsewhere. So you’re not originally Sarawakian from Kuching…or are you?

  3. Yeap, most of my West Malaysian friends always mistaken me as a Sarawakian though I have made myself clear that I am actually a Chinese Sabahan.;p

    Happy Gawal Dayak to you in advance!

    Sigh!!! After almost 50 years, still can’t get it right. For one thing, I really don’t know what they teach in Geography these days – I ask my students and they do not seem to know much about West Malaysia either, it seems. No need to talk about History – since the time when DSAI was Education minister and he implemented the KBSM syllabus…with that silly Moral Education subject and History is mostly about Tamadun Islam and all that these days… How to be loyal to own country when they do not know a thing about it?

  4. selamat hari gawai dayak to all those celebrating it. any tuak for u this year? haha. adrienne was asking if u’d like anything from melb lol

    Oh? She’s Down Under? No wonder she missed the lesson on Thursday, lucky girl. No, thanks…not really craving for anything from there. How long will she be there? The full three weeks? Goodie!!! One less to mark… Hehehehehehe!!!!!😀

  5. Happy Gawai.. I’m still stuck in KL.. 😦

    I sent my friend off at the Sibu airport last night. Goodness gracious, the crowd!!! Both departure and arrival…and the cars all illegally parked…so congested. Must remember never to travel during festive holidays.

  6. SELAMAT HARI GAWAI DAYAK, Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai, Chelap Lindap Lantang Senang Nguan Menua! I’m new to this greeting 😀

    And you’re Sarawakian. See! Didn’t I just say that earlier? Tsk! Tsk! Young people these days! *shakes head…

  7. Happy Gawai! 😀

    Not going back this week coz will be going back in 2-3 weeks time so didn’t take leave. Besides, got some important things to settle first, will tell you more when I go back 😀

    Heard from my mom that a lot of her friends are driving over to Kuching yesterday. Hahaha!!! Be careful on the road these few days, always got drunk people wandering on the highway wan. Almost knocked a few down last year when we were driving back to and fro Sibu.

    Ya…some minister also got involved in a serious accident, it seems. Lucky don’t need another by-election!!! Oh? What important things? Now I’m so curious… Can’t wait!!!

  8. Let’s so check out the Kumangs!

    You could have stayed back in Katibas and join in the festivities! I used to do that when I was in Kanowit – at Rantau Kemeding.

  9. Unfortunately, there is no Gawai celebrations here (no tuak either) but Wesak is big over here. 🙂

    No tuak! Consider that a blessing in disguise…or you’d be stoned for sure! Hahahahahaha!!!

  10. There will be a time in the future that I will be able to see that festivel. Thanks for broadcasting about it in the world STP.

    Welcome. my friend. Sarawak and Sabah welcome you… Btw, I did hear that it can be very very cheap to fly Air Asia from Clarks to Kota Kinabalu (Sabah) return. Maybe you can check it out on their website…

  11. I am celebrating Kaamatan here in Sabah with colleagues here today and also tomorrow. On the 2nd I shall be back to Sarawak for Gawai.

    Hehe… people work smart!

    Have fun! Not getting Chris to join you there? Schools on holiday already…Three weeks!!! @@

  12. morning STP!! hey no worry i knew all this! =D Happy Hari Gawai to u! =D

    Good! Good! Pat! Pat! *pat on the head… Hahahahaha!!!! I wonder if you used my books when you were in Form 4 and Form 5 – a lot of schools in Sabah did…and I used to fly over to give talks to teachers and students.

  13. Wake up in the early morning and saw all these foods…i will hungry til pant drop! haha

    Pants drop? Where? Where? @@….. Hahahahaha!!! Where got? This post…no food leh? Pretty women only… 😀

  14. Happy Harvest Festival! Hari Keamatan! This is the one day I’m jealous of you guys for the holiday! LOL!

    Hah!!! Eat your heart out! Holiday on Friday plus the weekend and if they take today off, tomorrow and Wednesday holiday again…and they will be back to work for two days and then weekend again. So nice! *rubs it in… Hahahahaha!!!! 😀

  15. On tuak. They all tasted different from different houses, even if it were from the one next door in the same longhouse. The good ones are so nice & smooth tasting with none of those fiery alcoholic character that it is very easy to go over your limit without you realizing it. Been there. Done that.

    Yes, the really good ones will make you want more and more…until you buckle at the knees!!! Like vodka, when it kicks…it kicks hard. Really nice too if you use to make fruit punch – and the effect’s just as strong, mind you! We also use it to cook kacang ma…but I prefer the authentic Chinese white wine.

  16. Selamat Hari Gawai. Time to go ‘yam seng’ at the longhouse….LOL!

    “Yam seng” is Chinese lah… Usually they will go, “Ooooohhaa!!!!” 😀

  17. This is what so unique about Malaysia. We so enjoy our holiday so much that we actually have several types of new year celebration. The Gregorian calendar new year, the Chinese new year, the Malay’s Hari Raya and the Dayak Gawai. This is a great country but the big fly in the ointment are the unfair policies.

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    if I surrender to His Will;
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with Him
    Forever in the next.

    -Reinhold Niebuhr-

  18. Happy Gawai to you and your missus. Enjoy the long holidays!

    Hah!!! We Cina, nor celebrating…but at least we get to enjoy the couple of days holidays. Nice! 🙂

  19. wah….i really never see dayak gawai celebration before….happy gawai celebration to u and ur family

    Chinese, not celebrating…but we can go and visit our Dayak relatives and friends in their homes or the longhouses to join in the festivities. I guess there’s nothing of the sort over at your side… 😦

  20. Happy Gawai everybody,even if you do not celebrate it, it must be acknowledge across the land of Malaysia, sadly to say, sometimes many of us still dont know what Gawai is all about.

    Yes, that’s true…and with this post in my blog, hopefully, a few will know what it is now. 🙂

  21. Oh! Pesta keamatan… 😀 Harvest festival… 😀 The girls are so pretty. I wanna wear those dress!

    You would look great in those traditional costumes – you’re so slim… 😉

    1. I will thank God profusely if the dresses din make me look like plywood. *nods*

      …or broomstick…or scarecrow… Hahahahaha!!! 😀

  22. selamat hari gawai 🙂 how i wish i can snap some photos of this festival… someday maybe?

    Come! Come around this time of the year…or come during the Borneo Cultural Festival in Sibu – lots of things to see, very colourful event. You can watch the videos on youtube…

  23. Selamat Pesta Keamataan to you too

    *points north-east…The people in Sabah are celebrating. Here, we celebrate the Gawai Festival tomorrow.

  24. hahaha she’d be here till end of this week. then she’d be coming home to write more essays lol!

    SIGH!!! I knew I do not have that kind of luck! Drats! Hahahahaha!!!! 😀

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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