PITAS: Pesta Kaamatan (harvest festival) has kicked off here with a magavau, a ceremony to appease the bambarayon (rice spirit).
The time-honoured ritual at the launch was carried out by a group of traditional priestesses from the Tombonuo community of Pitas.
There was much significance to the celebrations which marked the harvest festival here yesterday.
Kaamatan main organising committee chairman Datuk Peter Anthony said this year’s festival which carried a unity theme – Kaamatan Wadah Perpaduan Budaya Bangsa – was reflective of the cultural and racial unity in Sabah.
“It is a 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,” he said yesterday.
“Even though preparations for both occasions will be carried out simultaneously, I believe there will be no conflict as Sabahans are known for their tolerance and respect for each other’s beliefs.
“We have been living harmoniously together as a big multicultural and multireligious family, and this year’s Kaamatan theme reflects this spirit of unity.”
Peter, who is the state Infrastructure Development Minister, said this was the first time the interior district of Pitas was hosting the launch of the annual festival.
Echoing Peter’s sentiments, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said celebrations such as Kaamatan were important to preserve unity in the state. “We don’t have time to fight each other, as all our efforts need to be channelled towards developing Sabah together,” he said.
“The state government is not only committed to protecting Sabah rights but also the rich cultural heritage of her people.”
The festival was launched by Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin.
Also present was Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association vice-president Datuk Daniel Kinsik who represented the 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.
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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