Age-old ritual celebrated virtually

Keeping tradition alive: The Kadazandusun priestesses performing the ‘magavau’ ritual.

KOTA KINABALU: The magavau (or calling of padi spirits) which saw native Kadazandusun priestesses called bobohizans or bobolians chanting and performing the age-old ritual kick-started Sabah’s month-long Kaamatan festival.

This is an annual ritual performed to honour the padi spirit besides expressing hopes for a bountiful harvest.

The ritual yesterday saw nine priestesses sitting around an array of food and drinks that were prepared for the spirits.

The priestesses chanted and sang before they stood up and walked in circles, continuing with their chants, among other activities.

Prior to that, a symbolic padi harvesting was performed by invited guests on stage, where seven stalks of carefully selected padi kept in pots were harvested.

The launch of this year’s harvest festival, held virtually from the Hongkod Koisaan Hall at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association building (KDCA) after a year of hiatus, called on celebrants to preserve and practise unity amongst themselves.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, who officiated the event, said the spirit of Kaamatan was still strong despite the festival being launched virtually without the usual programmes such as bazaars, exhibitions and so on like in the past years.

“This year’s Borderless Kaamatan for Peace and Reconciliation calls for us all to make peace with one another and to be thankful for all that we have in life, ” he said.

“To really appreciate the meaning of Kaamatan, we must first make peace and then we can be happy and be thankful for all we have achieved, ” he added.

Jeffrey said with the Covid-19 pandemic still raging, it is everyone’s duty to celebrate the occasion with strict SOP in place.

“Let us all celebrate responsibly. We can still be merry and happy as long as we remember our SOP, ” he said.

Many of the programmes that come with Kaamatan such as the sugandoi (singing competition) and Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Queen) pageant will be held online this year.

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magavau , sabah , kaamatan , padi


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