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THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2018

Kaamatan Harvest Festival - Sabah

Be mesmerized by Sabah’s Kaamatan Harvest Festival when you visit Sabah at the end of May! Kaamatan or Pesta Kaamatan is a harvest festival and is one of the important and meaningful celebrations for the Kadazan Dusun community in Sabah. The word Kaamatan is a Kadazan-Dusun term for harvest. It is widely celebrated throught out Sabah. The Kaamatan or Harvest Festival is celebrated by the tribe of Kadazan/Dusun to celebrate good harvest, but the Kaamatan Festival is also celebrated by all other races in Sabah, usually celebrated throughout month of May. The highlight of the Kaamatan festival activities is the grand Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Festival Queen or better known as Miss Kaamatan), followed by the traditional dance, carnival, events and ceremonies by the Bobohizan, the Kadazan Priestess. Bobohizan plays an important role in Kaamatan because she is the one who will determines the official harvest festival date as well as officiating the Kaamatan Festival or better known by the local as Tadau Kamaatan.

 

However, Kaamatan is not just about celebrating the beginning of harvest. To understand more about Kaamatan Harvest Festival, there is a myth to be told. The Kadazan-Dusuns believe that in the days of yore the people suffered a great famine. It all begins with their God, Kinoingan, who took pity upon them. He sacrificed his daughter, Huminodun, by cutting her into small pieces in order to save the people from suffering. Her flesh was sown over the land and from these sprang the first rice plants. The Kadazan-Dusun believes that the spirit of Huminodun is embodied in the rice which is known as Bambarayon or Bambazon. Therefore, Kaamatan is celebrated to fulfil these five major purposes which are to welcome Bambazon to the Tangkob (a large rice storage container), to restore Bambazon that was lost during careless harvesting and processing of rice through the Magayau ritual ceremony, to feed the Bambazon with special food such as rice wine, fermented rice known as tandut, eggs, salt and feathers of a slaughtered chicken and, friendship and merry-making feast.

 

Throughout the whole month of Kaamatan Harvest Festival, there are ritual stages that are important for this festival. The first one is Kumogos Ceremony. It is held before the harves begins. The Bobohizan will tie up 7 stalks of the best rice from the rice field. These stakes of rice will be harvested only after whole rice field has been completely harvested. This ceremony is important to inform the other spirits to not disturb the farmers at work. The second stage is Kumotob Ceremony. After the first stage, Bobohizan will select another 7 stalks of the best rice from the area that is not yet harvested and will tie them up together. Then, she will place them in a basket which the local called as tadang that is specially to keep rice. It will be placed there until it turned into seeds for the next planting season. The third stage is Posisip Ceremony. In this ceremony, the Bobohizan will take the 7 stalks of rice which was placed in the tadang earlier to a rice hut. She will then put the rice into a bamboo pole kept in the tangkob while reciting chants to call for Bambazon to stay in the rice hut until the next planting season. The fourth stage, which is the Magavau Ceremony is the most important ceremony throughout the harvest festival. This is where the restoration and offerings of food to Bambazon is done. The last stage is Humabot Ceremony, which is held on the last day of Kaamatan. This is where a variety of entertainment and activities are held throughout the day. The highlight of the event would be the selection of the Unduk Ngadau, also known as Miss Kaamatan as it symbolizes Huminodun.

 

If you plan to visit Sabah at the end of May, take the opportunity to experience Harvest Festival vibe in Sabah and feel the uniqueness! You may visit our website SarawakBorneoTour.com and check out our Sabah tour packages. Do take note that Kaamatan Festival falls on 30th and 31st of May which is considered as a Public Holiday in the entire state of Sabah. Plan your trip well and make sure you have everything you need as most of the shops will be closed.

 

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