Dayak leaders, multiracial society unite to celebrate Gawai Day

Diversity embraced: Dancer Jacline Sahfica taking a wefie with fellow performers at the Gawai open house at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said the Gawai Dayak open house is an opportunity for Sarawakians to strengthen their racial harmony and unity.

He said the open house for Gawai Day, which is celebrated yearly on June 1 and 2 by the Dayak community in Sarawak as a sign of gratitude to mark the end of the harvest season, not only reflected unity among Dayak state and federal leaders but also Sarawak’s multiracial society.

“We can see multiracial groups coming to the open house. This is Sarawak’s asset.

“Having an open house is an opportunity for us to continue building bridges and to understand each other,” he said.

Uggah was joined by 16 other Dayak leaders to host the state-level Gawai open house at the Borneo Convention Centre in Kuching yesterday.

It was attended by Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg as the “tuai pengabang”, or guest of honour, other state and federal leaders, and the public.

Uggah also said the open house showcased Dayak culture through traditional dances, songs and costumes.

“Similarly, during Hari Raya, we’ll see Malay culture and during Chinese New Year, we see Chinese culture.

“That really brings us together as united Sarawakians. In Sarawak, we can say that we are very proud of the racial harmony that we have,” he said.

Uggah also said this racial harmony must continue to be nurtured so that the state can continue to develop.

Sarawak Cultural Village general manager Jane Lian Labang, who attended the open house with her family, said it was common for festive celebrations in Sarawak to be celebrated by everyone.

She said the open house was also a good way of promoting unity among Malaysians.

“It’s natural in Sarawak for people to hold open houses during Gawai, not only here but in the longhouses, which is in line with the concept of unity,” she added.

The open house attracted hundreds of visitors, many dressed in traditional attire.

Abang Johari and other dignitaries took to the stage to entertain the crowd with a number of folk songs, while a troupe from the Dayak Cultural Foundation performed Orang Ulu, Bidayuh and Iban traditional dances.

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