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Pesta Kaamatan & Hari Gawai 2019



A Kaamatan and Gawai Festival was held on Sunday 7 July 2019 at the Rooftop of St Ignatius Church (SIC) to introduce Sabahan amd Sarawakian culture to locals in Peninsular Malaysia and also to strengthen the bond between parishioners from various churches. The festival is celebrated annually in the state of Sabah and Sarawak. Kaamatan is a Kadazan-Dusun term for “harvest” and is celebrated for the whole month of May. It is normally celebrated by the ethnic Kadazan-Dusuns, as well as by other related ethnic groups in the state on 31st of May. Whereas Gawai Festival is celebrated on 1st June, with colourful rituals, traditional music, cock fighting, feasting and games. During this festival, almost everyone dresses in traditional costumes while the elders perform traditional dance.



Organised by the KUBM (Komuniti Umat Bahasa Malaysia) SIC, about 200 people showed up for the event, including SIC Parish Priest Fr Andrew Wong CDD, Assistant Parish Priest Fr Lawrence Ng CDD, Chairman of PPC (Parish Pastoral Council) Lourdes Abishegam, parishioners from various parishes, and also Sabahan & Sarawakian parishioners. The ceremony began with the welcoming of the two SIC priests and Fr Andrew signalled the start of the celebration by hitting a gong. 


Gongs are Sabah’s most iconic indiophones that are found throughout Sabah, particularly among the Kadazan-Dusun and Murut ethnic groups. Made of either brass or bronze, the gong is considered the backbone of the traditional musical instruments found in Sabah. It is usually thick with a broad rim and produces a distinct muffled sound of a deep tone. In the olden days, it was originally traded in from Brunei. The celebration then proceeded with a short speech by Ms Elsie Jane Anthony and blessing of the food by Fr Andrew.


We then proceeded with the best part of the event – food! Yes, thanks to the committees and organisers of KUBM SIC, some of us took the extra effort to bring local delicacies of Sabah and Sarawak all the way from the East to West! Among them are bosou ikan, bosou babi, ayam pansuh, tuhau, bambangan, ambuyat, hinava, ikan masin lada putih, rebung ikan masin, sup nangka babi, sinalau bakas pucuk ubi, and serunding


Alongside that, attendees also had the opportunity to savour traditional desserts such as lipat pisang & ubi. Not forgetting the tasty rice wine (tapai) prepared by our very own KUBM youth of SIC – Kane Ariel – and also tuak. Tuak is quite similar to chinese rice wine but differs in the purpose. Chinese rice wine is used in cooking while tuak is used in social and ritual events of the Dayak tribes in Borneo. Tuak is also made in Sabah but known by a different name – lihing. Other rice producing countries in Asia also have their own version of tuak.


Furthermore, the youths of KUBM SIC also teamed up to perform Sabahan and Sarawakian traditional dances during the event. There were also lucky draw sessions and a best dress competition at the end of the event. Last but not least, the most exciting part of the activity we had was the arm wrestling competition (mimpulos), where men from different age groups come together to test not just their strength but also technique & leverage.



The highlight of the event was tarian magunatip. Magunatip, more well-known as “Bamboo Dance”, is considered as one of the most popular traditional dances in Sabah. The name “Magunatip” is derived from the word “apit”, which means “to press between two surfaces.” In the dance, dancers need good timing and agility to put their feet between the clapping bamboo poles, without being trapped. To create more fun, the music tempo and the clapping speed of the bamboo becomes faster and faster and FASTER (so is your heart beat), such that the audience will be super-impressed by the exciting ending.


In the past, Magunatip was a warrior dance to welcome the return of Murut headhunters. Today, bamboo dance is commonly performed in cultural functions and celebrations for entertainment and socialising purposes. At the end of the performance, we invited Fr Andrew, Fr Lawrence, and a few from the audience to join in the tarian magunatip and also the “menyumpit” session where they use a traditional pipe to pop the balloons. To sum up, we are glad that everyone had fun and had the opportunity to try the local delicacies of Sabah and Sarawak. We hope that this event was a memorable experience for everyone. 


Before the event during the Bahasa Malaysia (BM) Mass, parishioners turned up dressed in traditional costumes and Kadazan, Iban & BM were used in the readings and singing of hymns. Thanksgiving gifts comprising fruits of the harvest were brought to the altar during the Offertory. Fr Lawrence was the celebrant at this BM Mass.

More photos taken by the Parish Communication Team (PCT) are available for viewing & downloading atparishlife

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