KOTA KINABALU: Ancient prayers were chanted while buffaloes were slaughtered in a Kadazandusun ritual to appease the spirits of Mount Kinabalu, two weeks after an earthquake killed 18 people there.
The monolob ritual was carried out simultaneously at the Kinabalu Park in Kundasang and Mamut in Ranau.
The 8.30am ceremony yesterday at the Kinabalu Park saw bobolian (Kadazandusun shaman) Abas Rintingan, 93, slaughtering a buffalo near the Timpohon Gate where climbers begin their trek up the mountain.
In his hands were a komborongoh or talisman made up of animal parts and plants.
Villagers from nearby Bundu Tuhan and Kampung Kiau were present.
The ceremony was organised by the Council of Elders of Mount Kinabalu comprising representatives of Bundu Tuhan and Kiau.
The media was asked to stay at a certain distance as a mark of respect for the ritual.
Council coordinator Johnny Ghani said after the buffalo was slaughtered, parts of the animal including the tip of the nose, liver, heart and some of the meat were sliced off and taken by Abas.
The bobolian then brought the animals parts to a site at the base of the mountain.
“These were the offerings to the mountain spirits,” he said, adding that the other parts of the buffalo were cooked at a hall in Kinabalu Park and the food shared among the villagers who came to witness the ritual known as po sogit.
“The sharing of the food was to signify the harmony among the people.
“We are hoping that after this ritual, the spirits of the mountain will cool down if they are angered by the actions of human beings,” Johnny said.
“We hope that any imbalance in nature will be corrected and that things will return to normal for the safety of climbers, guides and Sabah Parks staff,” he said.
Johnny said the Council also intended to hold another ritual to appease the mountain spirits just before repair work was carried out at the mountain.
“We want to ensure that the work on Mount Kinabalu are carried out without any problems or hitches,” he added.
The ethnic Lotud community had held similar rituals to appease the mountain spirits on Tuesday.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the Kadazandusun paramount leader, had said that Mount Kinabalu was considered sacred to the indigenous communities but it was desecrated by 10 foreigners who stripped on the mountain on May 30.