Colourful start for Kaamatan festival

KOTA KINABALU: A rainbow of colourful and unique native performances were staged and traditional sports were held to mark the beginning of this year’s Kaamatan festival.  

Hundreds of guests at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) hall were treated to the showcase of Sabah’s melting pot of culture, accompanied by music depicting the sounds of nature from instruments made of bamboo and rattan.  

Outside, cheers could be heard from where traditional sports were held amid the loud music and traders outdoing each other trying to sell their products exhibited in booths in the KDCA compound.  

The scorching heat did not seem to bother visitors as the crowd from near and far grew from as early as 9am Monday.  

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who opened the festival, was amazed at the performances and the support from the people of various backgrounds attending the Kaamatan festival.  

He said Kaamatan should continue to be celebrated because it promotes peace, unity and understanding among Sabah’s various cultures.  

“I appreciate celebrations such as this one because it is something that has been celebrated for many years, since our ancestors’ time, and it should continue and not be allowed to become extinct with time,” he said.  

Huguan Siou (Kadazandusun paramount leader) Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, said Kaamatan is celebrated wholeheartedly by the Kadazandusun and Murut community because of the history behind it.  

“We celebrate the harvesting of padi as our people suffered a great famine a long time ago and, according to legend, it was Huminodun (the daughter of Kinoingan or God) who sacrificed herself to give the people food and the harvest.  

“Therefore, we must remember what this festival is about,” he said.  

State-level Kaamatan chairman Datuk Dr Clarence Bongkos Malakun urged the people to celebrate responsibly and take care of their safety and health in whatever they do.  

He said it is necessary that the people portray a positive image of the festival and tell the world what Kaamatan is really about.  

“Kaamatan should be a joyous occasion,” he said.  

The month-long celebration, which peaks on May 30 and 31 annually, will also see 44 finalists of the Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Queen) vying for the crown Tuesday.