Kaamatan Celebration in KDCA 2017
On 31st May 2017, I got the opportunity to experience Sabah’s yearly event, which is Harvest Festival or Kaamatan, which is held at Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA), Penampang. There are so many of people from all walks of life, including foreign visitors, who thronged to KDCA to witness and enjoy the celebration.
Apart from that, there were many vendors and information booths, which includes those put up by government departments, and various happenings being held in KDCA, such as the traditional games, cultural dance, and more.
A group of bobohizan performing a ritual to officiate the Kaamatan celebration.
Before I share my experience, let me explain to you what is Harvest Festival or Kaamatan. Harvest Festival or Kaamatan is the major festival of Sabah, which is celebrated annually, every 30th – 31st of May. However, it is widely celebrated throughout Sabah for the month of May, especially among the Kadazandusun tribe ( the largest indigenous ethnic group in Sabah). Harvest Festival or Kaamatan is a celebration to signify the beginning of the harvest of rice crops, and the Bobohizan (the female shamans of Sabah), played a major role in officiating the celebration.
It is also believed that the Harvest Festival is especially celebrated for the sacrifice of Kinoingan’s only daughter, Huminodun, for the love of her people, in order to stop famine. Huminodun’s body was cut into small pieces and it is believed her spirit is embodied in the rice and therefore known as Bambarayon or Bambazon.
Now, back to my story! 🙂
I went there in the morning and it was crowded with locals and tourists celebrating together on this event. Although it was crowded there, I still wanted to go around KDCA area, especially going into the traditional houses to see the unique cultural dances and costumes. That was considered my favorite part of this event because it really made me feel in awe watching the dance performances and different types of traditional outfits. Somehow, I feel like I wanted to wear my own traditional costume and walk around as well (hahaha!). However, I only got the chance to capture photos of locals wearing their own traditional attire.
Traditional Dance Dusun Ranau
Sabah’s Kadazandusun Culture. Photo by: Agustine Jumat
A group of Dusun Tindal of Sabah. Photo by: riveldo
One of the Kadazandusun smaller ethnic groups
Walking around the KDCA area, you will never miss hearing the Kaamatan songs or the sound of gongs. Not only that, you can see some people sang Kadazandusun karaoke songs, lots of dancing, and of course, drinking session – the focus of the event for all. There were so many food vendors there, which means a variety of food this year than ever before.
The smell of roasting meats, followed by a waft of smoke move through the air, it was no doubt the smell of smoked wild boar, lamb barbecue, traditional dishes, satay meats, burgers, fresh grilled seafood, fried foods, cute shapes of Pau, alcoholic beverages, and best of all, there were pork meats everywhere! Want to know how local Kadazandusun traditional looks like? click “Traditional Sabah Food that makes you drool”.
A local playing bamboo musical instrument
Moving on to the outdoor stage nearby, there were traditional games such as tug of war rope, arm wrestling, blow piping, stilt walking, and more, which provides a glimpse of how local spend their pastimes, as well as to entertain visitors. I did not manage to go to the KDCA Hall to watch the grand finale of Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Festival Beauty Pageant) because we need to buy the entrance fee ticket. So, I have to let go my decision to see Unduk Ngadau and continue going around the KDCA area.
One thing that fascinated me the most was the celebration of Harvest Festival or Kaamatan was happening during the beginning of Ramadan and it was raining in the evening, but the flow of visitors coming to KDCA did not stop, nor did it hinder our Malay friends to come over for the celebration as well! Apart from that, celebrating this event was truly a time for a reunion, because I was able to meet and get together with some of my longtime friends, school or childhood friends, which I did not see in my regular basis.
Check out the video below on how the celebration looks like on that day. 🙂
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