Time to give thanks for the harvest

Kaamatan has gone beyond an opportunity for merry-making, and more importantly, is a time for reunion as well.

IT’S that time of the year again. Kaamatan is now the buzz word in Sabah, at least for the month of May.

The annual Harvest Festival kicked off in northern Kota Marudu district on May 1 and for the whole month, the celebrations will be held at villages and towns around the state.

And as in previous years, the festivities will culminate with the two-day state level celebration at the Hongkod Koisaan hall in Penampang at the end of the month.

The hall is home of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) headed by the Huguan Siou or the community’s Paramount Chief Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

The KDCA is also the main organiser for the state-level Kaamatan festivities starting on May 30 with the staging of a traditional sports carnival and a myriad of cultural pre­sentations at the grounds around the Hong­kod.

The following day will see the closing of the celebrations culminating with the crowning of this year’s Unduk Ngadau or the winner of the Harvest Queen pageant.

For generations, Sabah’s ethnic Kadazan­dusun community have celebrated Kaamatan as a thanksgiving for a bountiful padi harvest.

The launching of the celebration at either is thus usually marked with the magavau, the ceremony to appease the bambarayon or rice spirit by a group of bobolian or traditional priestesses.

Whether at village, district or state levels, Kaamatan is also the showcase of other aspects of ethnic culture, including food and drink.

The festivities thus include competitions for the best traditional dishes such as hinava or raw fish, nonsom sada or pickled fish, tuhau or pickled wild ginger, and pinasakan or stewed fish.

There is also usually a contest to choose the best lihing or rice wine that is sipped from tajau or clay jars. After the best dishes and rice are chosen, these would then be served to guests at the festivities.

William Majimbun is all too familiar with the intricacies of the Kaamatan celebrations. As Kota Kinabalu Native Chief, he is usually invited to the festivities around his native Inanam and Menggatal as well as other districts.

And he observes that Kaamatan has gone beyond an opportunity for merry-making, and more importantly, is a time for reunion as well.

by Ruben Sario.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/Opinion/Columnists/OK-Bah/Profile/Articles/2014/05/28/Time-to-give-thanks-for-the-harvest/

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