Kadazan Superstition in Sabah and Sabahan Taboo
The Kadazan superstitions in Sabah, have been handed down through the generations by way of oral tradition. The moral of many of these superstitions concern bringing good or bad luck. In addition, the superstitions in Sabah Borneo vary widely from from place to place, however, the majority are rooted in similar stories. For travelers who are interested in learning about the culture here in Borneo, this is the article for you!
1) Respecting Mount Kinabalu
Going to climb Mount Kinabalu can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience in one’s life. Apart from that, the locals in Sabah Borneo, especially the Kadazandusun tribe, believe that Mount Kinabalu is sacred to them as it is the “the revered place of the dead”.
Mount Kinabalu climb
Mount Kinabalu summit trail
So, if you plan to climb Mount Kinabalu, especially for the first time, these are the things that you should need to know beforehand:
- One should not shout, curse, or make loud noises while climbing Mount Kinabalu, as to avoid bad spirits from disturbing them or whoever is climbing with them.
- Do not pluck any plants or pick a stone from the mountain and bring it back home; locals believe (and still do!) that some plants or natural objects have “residents” in them. Taking them with you will only aggravate them and cause them to retaliate
- Ask for permission before peeing or throwing your empty canisters; you’ll never know if the place you’re throwing has spirits roaming around there or whether it’s their home you’re invading
2) Hunting in Borneo Jungle
Wild Boar hunting. Photo by: Kenneth Sorento
Sogit can be in form of livestock, agricultural produce such as tajau or gongs. Photo by: Rabani HM. Ayub
Kadazandusun ritual by a group ofg Bobohizan or Shaman to appease the mountain spirit. Photo by: Arkitrek.com
Moreover, no cats are not allowed to be near to the dead body. This is to prevent the cats to jump over the body, which Kadazandusun believed that the dead body will awaken but obviously possessed by an evil spirit.
5) Moths/ Butterfly fly into the house
Huge moth outside the house. Photo by: the longerthebetter
Apart from that, the locals also believed that when moths/ butterflies came flying into the house during the day, it means the house owner will be expecting guests, either from a long-lost relatives or friends, coming to the house.
For Kadazandusun people, the concept Tapun is basically about food and it is still practiced until now. There is no easy word to describe the word Tapun, but it is the locals’ way of saying this word when they could not eat some food that they thought about or when offered by others. By saying the word Tapun, they can avoid any harm when going out from the house.
7) Other Superstitious
There is also a minor superstitious which some Kadazandusun people still believe until today. Such as, whistling at night is prohibited, because it will invite the devil in a form of a snake to come. Apart from that, children are not allowed to point the rainbows using their fingers, because if they do, their fingers will be bent and become stiff.
Picnic by the river in Borneo Jungle can be so much fun and excitement, however, Kadazandusun people believed that some of the food must be “shared” with the guardians of the place before they eat, in order to avoid getting sick when they return home.
Such superstitions among Kadazandusun tribe in Sabah Borneo is not all that bad, but it is best to have some of the knowledge of the superstitious and do respect it. Moreover, it would make your trip to Sabah Borneo much more interesting after knowing some of the superstitious, and it can be a good story to share with your family and friends back in your hometown!
Get to know more about Kadazan tribe, one of the major indigenous groups in Sabah.
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