Gawai & Kaamatan Celebration

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Gawai is an annual festival celebrated by the Dayak people in Sarawak, Malaysia and West Kalimantan, Indonesia on 1st and 2nd June. Kaamatan It is normally celebrated by the ethnic Kadazan-Dusuns, as well as by other related ethnic groups in the state, and lasts for the whole of the month of May, ending with a public holiday on a date selected by a priestess known as the bobohizan.

These festivals are also known as the harvest festival. The festival is usually celebrated with many activities such as prayers, singing and dancing among those who celebrate it. For Sarawakians, they will usually do the traditional dance of Ngajat after dinner while for Sabahans they will end the celebration with the crowning of the new Unduk Ngadau which is a beauty pageant. Popular drinks served during the celebrations will be rice wine known as Tapai in Sabah and Tuak in Sarawak.

We had conducted all of the activities Virtually. We kicked off the first activity which was Introduction to Gawai & Kaamatan by presenting Introduction videos to the students who joined our googlemeet link. This activity was handled by our MPP Adzwan and Afifah. The students were very interested in learning about Gawai & Kaamatan, they asked a lot of questions after the videos we played. We had the staff who join us also share a bit about their own Gawai & Kaamatan cultures and beliefs.

The next activity that we carried out was Borneo’s Traditional Dishes competition. For This activity we had students send in their own video to talk about how to prepare traditional dishes for Sabah and Sarawak. We picked the winners based on the most creative and interesting video. The next activity was traditional dances introduction and competition. We had our MPP Brandon and Veronica introduce Sabah and Sarawak dance which were Sumazau and Ngajat respectively. They showed a video presentation on how to perform each moves of the dance and also what are the costumes traditionally worn during the dance. We continued the activity by getting students to submit their own dance videos and chose the best as winners.  

We also had trivia night where we got the students to answer questions on Gawai & Kaamatan on Kahoot.com. They student had a lot of fun during the game and asked that we carry out more trivia games like this. The top scorers were chosen as winners. We had the closing ceremony virtually on 11th June 2021. During the ceremony, the head of the MPP organizing committee Cliff Daniel presented the slides by Dr Benedict Topin , Chairman of the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association as he was unable to join us personally. He had provided the slides and briefed Cliff instead to present on his behalf. We were happy that the whole program went on without any major issues. This was the first event that was handled solely by MPP with guidance from Student Affairs department.

The program organized by MPP went well with the help from CCD Department and various other staff. The students requested that we have more activity where we play games and share meals with them. They hoped that we can proceed with physical activities as soon as possible. We are happy that we manage to complete all the activities successfully. We hope in the future, we can improve all the parts that we were lacking and also hope to have more participants for our future activities.


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