Kaamatan Festival kicks off with traditional fanfare in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: The beating of gongs, ringing of bells and the sounds of traditional musical instruments welcomed guests at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) grounds as the state-level Kaamatan festival officially kicked off on Thursday (May 30).

Sabah Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin and his wife Toh Puan Norlidah RM Jasni, Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan as well as other ministers and dignitaries were among the thousands who thronged the Hongkod Koisaan hall in KDCA.

Traditional performances from the district of Ranau called the Sumirid, choir performances from the group Male-Efficient, native storytelling known as Manangon, traditional poetry known as Hiis, and other dances and songs were presented for the guests.

During his welcome speech, Kitingan said Kaamatan is a festival of unity and cultural experience while celebrating gratitude for a bountiful harvest for the year.

It is also a platform for cultural promotion and continuation of traditions - attire, dances and food, he said.

“It is important that we keep this part of our traditions alive and make sure that the younger generation understands and appreciates their roots,” said Kitingan.

He called upon all to work together in preserving the traditions of the Kadazandusun, Murut and Rungus communities, as well as other races and religions in this country.

In line with this year’s Kaamatan theme - Kaamatan, Beyond Food Security - he urged the community to work as one in preserving and conserving Sabah's natural treasures.

Kitingan said it was vital that everyone conserve and protect nature in tackling global warming and lack of food supplies, as they move forward in this era of modernisation.

After the opening ceremony, Tun Juhar as well as other guests visited the numerous traditional houses where they were treated to food samplings, cultural dances, games and other activities.

Sabah’s month-long Harvest Festival culminates on May 30 and 31.

On Friday (May 31), the state will see the crowning of the Unduk Ngadau or Harvest Queen chosen among 51 finalists, who represent the legendary Huminodun.

Huminodun, daughter of the gods Kinoingan and Sumundu, was said to be the most beautiful and kindest girl ever lived.

She sacrificed herself amid a famine so the people would have food.

The legend is the basis of the annual month-long Kaamatan Festival.

Kaamatan is where the people of Sabah, especially farmers, give thanks to the Gods (during the ancient times of animism) for the abundance of their harvest.

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