Sabah kicks off month-long Kaamatan festival at Dataran Bengkoka

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 01 May 2019

PITAS: The state-level Pesta Kaamatan (Harvest Festival) celebrations has kicked off with great fanfare at Dataran Bengkoka here on Wednesday (May 1).

Kaamatan main organising committee chairman Datuk Peter Anthony said this year's festival "Kaamatan Wadah Perpaduan Budaya Bangsa" was reflective of the cultural and racial unity in Sabah.

"It is tradition for us to kick off the month-long Kaamatan celebrations on May 1. At the same time, it is also Ramadan month and our Muslim friends will start fasting on May 5.

"Even though preparations for both celebrations will be carried out simultaneously, I believe there will be no conflict as Sabahans are known for their tolerance and respect towards each other's beliefs.

"We have been living harmoniously together as a big multicultural and multi-religious family, and this year's Kaamatan theme reflects this spirit of unity," he added.

Peter, who is state Infrastructure Development Minister, said this was the first time the interior district of Pitas hosted the launch of the annual festival.

Echoing Peter's sentiments, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said celebrations such as Kaamatan was important to preserve unity in the state.

"We don't have time to fight with each other, as all our efforts need to be channelled towards developing Sabah together.

"The state government is not only committed to protecting Sabah rights, but also the rich cultural heritage of her people," Shafie assured.

The festival was launched by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin.

Also present was Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) vice president Datuk Daniel Kinsik who represented Huguan Siou (paramount leader) of the Kadazandusun community, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

"Sabahans are capable of working together even though we have different beliefs.

"Kaamatan is a time for us to display our cultural identity, which we must continue to balance with modern living," he said.

The launching was followed by "magavau", which is the ceremony to appease "bambarayon" (rice spirit) by a group of traditional priestesses from the Tombonuo community of Pitas.

Kaamatan, which is celebrated annually by indigenous communities in Sabah to celebrate and give thanks to traditional deities and spirits for the year's bounty, falls on May 30 and 31.

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