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KUALA PENYU: STATE leaders were made to sweat as they took part in a ritual, displayed their dancing skills and obliged a chanting shaman to mark the launch of the month-long Pesta Kaamatan, or Harvest Festival, here yesterday.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman declared open the festival, which will move on to other districts across the state, before culminating at the Hongkod Koisaan Building in Penampang on May 30 and 31.
The elaborate launch came with a sombre ritual by a high priestess, Kinup Suram, to appease the rice spirits, leaders cutting stalks of rice before sharing a meal and dancing the sumazau on stage — kicking off the state’s biggest annual celebration.
Even the poor ventilation system, which got officials of the event apologising and scurrying to repair the air condition system at the main venue, the Datuk Shahbandar Hall, did not bother Musa who told them not to worry as he was an orang kampung (villager) like every other leader in his cabinet.
“I can take the heat so do not worry about me or about the other leaders.
“What is more important here is we celebrate and respect this meaningful festival together.”
Present were deputy chief minister and paramount leader of the Kadazandusun and Murut community Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, Beaufort MP Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin, who was also the organising chairman, and Kuala Penyu assemblyman John Teo.
“I see the people here taking every opportunity to be part of the celebration,” Musa said and referred to the blanket of stalls on the sidewalks across the coastal town right to the main venue at the hall as a testament to this.
Musa said this was where the people of Sabah were in their element, displaying their strong commitment towards preserving their rich culture and tradition as well as strengthening unity among the various communities.
“That is why we are always referred to as a role model in showing the example of what the 1Malaysia policy represents, and we need to preserve this through such celebrations which brings us together.”
Themed “The Love of Culture Builds A Caring Society”, the festival is celebrated by the Kadazandusun, Murut and Rungus communities in the state in May.
Apart from the district level celebrations, it is also observed in villages or even at homes among family members.
“This theme was picked to create a platform for people in Sabah to strengthen unity and harmony among the various races,” Kitingan said.
Source : New Straits Times