2016 Kaamatan draws larger crowd

By: Cleophas John Gordon

PENAMPANG: This year’s Kaamatan celebration was met with huge excitement and the Hongkod Koisaan was especially congested by people keen to take part in the festivities, especially to witness the highly popular Unduk Ngadau pageant. 

This writer and one other from the New Sabah Times, had great difficulty inching their way inside the hall while the Unduk Ngadau was taking place. 

Crowds cheered and wolf-whistled for their favourite contestants and many people who travelled from afar to support the contestants, came with significant number of their family and friends too. 

Even outside the hall, the crowd appeared a lot bigger than last year’s state-level Kaamatan festival, despite the heavy downpour over the past two days and considerable lack of parking space. 

There were also many tourists who could be seen stopping at the various stalls and booths enjoying local delicacies and lihing, a local rice wine, while joining the locals in merry-making. 

Edward, from Beluran said the reason he came to the festival in spite of the bad weather was to catch up with friends from the city. 

“It has been some time since I last met them so the Kaamatan festival was the best chance to do so,” he said. Another visitor, Vicky, said she travelled all the way from Kudat to show her support to the district’s Unduk Ngadau contestant. 

“It’s far but I never miss a chance to visit the Hongkod Koisaan every Kaamatan,” said the 22-year-old from Marang Parang. 

She is an avid follower of the Unduk Ngadau contest and always looks forward to it. Earlier in the day, Kadazandusun priestesses or Bobohizan performed the age-old ritual of magavau or thanksgiving ceremony to kick off the harvest festival celebrations. 

Among the many cultural performances were the Sumazau dance from the Penampang Kadazandusun community, the Pokodinding by the Dusun Tindal and the Sayau Tatana of Kuala Penyu. 

Yesterday’s festivities at the Hongkod Koisaan in Penampang marked the end of the month-long celebration. It was officially declared closed with the cutting of seven paddy stalks by Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin who later beat a gong seven times. 

Also present was Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, who is also the Huguan Siou or paramount leader of the Kadazandusun. 

Other leaders present were Minister of Energy, Green Technology Water Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili, Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Seri Madius Tangau, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, state cabinet ministers and the 2016 Kaamatan Festival Main Implementation and Coordination Committee Chairman, Datuk Seri Clarence Bongkos Malakun, who is also the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Deputy President. 

(Source: New Sabah Times, 1st June, 2016)