GEORGE TOWN: Sabah hopes the Federal Government will gazette Pesta Kaamatan and Sarawak’s Gawai Dayak as national public holidays.
“The voices in Borneo hope this humble request will be fulfilled,” said Sabah Chief Minister’s political secretary Jo-Anna Sue Henley Rampas.
She said similar to Deepavali and Wesak Day, which were celebrated nationally, the people should join Sabahans and Sarawakians in celebrating their most important festivals.
Both festivals are a two-day state holiday in the respective states.
Rampas said she hoped the Federal Government would gazette the first day of both celebrations as national holidays.
“For the first time, Putrajaya has launched its own Pesta Kaamatan this year.
“Part of the reason is because Sabahans are all over the peninsula.
“In Penang, I was told that there are some 5,000 Sabahans and there are many more in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Johor Baru,” Rampas, who is also the Unduk Ngadau Pesta Kaamatan 2019 committee chairman, said after launching the Penang Pesta Kaamatan celebrations recently.
She said the festival, a tourism product in Sabah, helped the state bring in over three million tourists last year.
“It has the potential to be a tourism product for the whole of Malaysia too,” she said.
The celebration was a joint effort by Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) Penang, Kadazandusun Cultural Association and the state Culture and Arts Department.
Motac Penang director Jonathan Freddy P. Bagang said it was the second time the event was being held in Penang.
“Next year, we hope to do it on a larger scale because it will be Visit Malaysia Year 2020 and Experience Penang Year 2020,” he said.
Pesta Kaamatan in Sabah is a rice harvest festival to give thanks for a good harvest.
The spirit of the padi plant is believed to represent the all-powerful source of life and existence.
Rituals are performed to ensure continuous harvests and to keep natural disasters away.
Every year, young women in Sabah will doll up in traditional attire and participate in a beauty contest to vie for the title of Unduk Ngadau (harvest queen), in honour of Huminudon, who sacrificed herself to save her people from famine.
Gawai Dayak is a similar harvest festival in Sarawak.
Gawai means festival and Dayak is the collective name of the indigenous people of Sarawak.