#MyHeartIsInRanau: My First Kaamatan Experience in Ranau (2018)

May has always been the most great rejoicing and festivity month in Sabah as it is the month of celebrating the end of paddy harvest for the people of Sabah especially the KadazanDusun Murut Rungus (KDMR). Harvest Festival or famously known as Kaamatan is similar to Gawai festival in Sarawak, or 

Kaamatan or Pesta Kaamatan is a form of harvest festival celebrated annually in the state of Sabah in Malaysia. It is normally celebrated by the ethnic Kadazan-Dusuns, as well as by other related ethnic groups in the state, and lasts for the whole of the month of May, ending with a public holiday on the 30–31 May.[1]:417 On 31st May, a beauty pageant known as Unduk Ngadau will be held and it ends the harvest festival with a newly crowned Unduk Ngadau in the annual host district, Penampang. The Harvest Festival comes under the ambit of what is known as Momolianism, the belief system and life philosophy of the Kadazan-Dusun. (Source: Kaamatan, Wikipedia)

Kaamatan is all about Thanksgiving. The purpose of this celebration is merely not about to gather everyone and enjoy getting drunk with alcoholic drinks. The actual purposes of Kaamatan are quite ritual as the Kaamatan is all about welcoming the Bambaazon (rice spirit) to the Tangkob (large rice storage container) as well as to restore the Bambaazon which was lost due to careless harvesting process and process the rice through the Magavau ritual ceremony. Although Sabahans practise their own religion but this is the Adat which cannot be forgotten as it has been there even before the colonisations.

This celebration is very unique as every one can witness how the Bobohizan (Bobolian in Dusun, this is the high prietess) conducts the ceremony to feed the Bambazon with special food such as rice wine, tandut (fermented rice), eggs, salt, and the feathers of a slaughtered chicken. In fact, Kaamatan is not a monotonous or boring event as it comes with merry-making feast at the very end of the rituals. If you are looking forward for the feast, then you should be present during the Humabot ceremony because it is the closing ceremony, which happens on the last day of Kaamatan which falls on the grand day (as for the State-level, it falls on May 31)It includes a variety of activities, entertainment, dances, food, and delicacies throughout the day. Be sure to bring you camera or video to record the all-day event!

If the harvest has been good, this is a thanksgiving. However, if it has been poor, then the ritual is an appeasement of the spirit. The KDMR believe that the spirits reside in natural objects, and the rituals are conducted by shamanist priestesses. Besides the solemn aspects of the festival, there is so much merry-making and free flowing of rice wine. This festival is celebrated during most of the month of May throughout the region with carnivals, special exhibits, sports competitions, beauty pageant and a regatta, all leading up to the rituals on May 30 and 31 in KadazanDusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Cultural Centre in Penampang. (Source: Kaamatan Festival, Encyclopedia – The Free Dictionary)

I come from a family who upholds the Adat as part of our life. In fact, my late great-grandmother (from my mum’s side) was well-known for her ability to heal illnesses using traditional methods. Only some of us in the family inherit her ability, anyway. My late grandfather (mum’s father), on the other hands, was a Ketua Kampung (Village Headman) until his last moment. He taught me some of the Adats and even asked me to learn so that I can lead a great and respected life.

Unduk Ngadau Inanam Committee Members (2016 - 2017)
Unduk Ngadau Inanam Committee Members (2016 – 2017)

I have always enjoyed getting involved with the Kaamatan celebration in my Mum’s hometown – Manggatal, because I stay closer with my Mum’s Benggon family than my Dad’s Rampas family. Frankly speaking, I rarely return to Dad’s hometown in Kiulu because I have been living in Manggatal ever since I was born. Anyway, Manggatal and Telipok always been part of Inanam. So, when you heard Pesta Kaamatan Inanam, it means the celebration includes Manggatal and Telipok. Jangan hairan dan jangan terkejut. Being part of the Inanam District Unduk Ngadau Committee members is one of the most valuable experience which I would never forget. The committed and superb team is under the guidance of Puan Winnie Impang’s vast experience in Unduk Ngadau. We are taught to always be proud of our culture, and are encouraged to don our traditional costume.

2018 Ranau Unduk Ngadau Committee Members
2018 is another challenging year in which I am currently with Ranau District Unduk Ngadau Committee Members.

Okay. This time around, I have been out of my comfort zone. I have been stationed to work with Ranau District Office, which means I have to be apart from my hometown – Manggatal. I have to ‘retire’ from being the Unduk Ngadau committee for Inanam district since I have to be part of Unduk Ngadau committee for Ranau district. I am quite frustrated because I have always been part of Inanam and that is the fact which I find damn hard to change.

Pertandingan Garung Olumis Ranau 2018
The recently held ‘Pertandingan Garung Olumis Ranau 2018’ @ Ranau Community Hall.

I have to adjust myself with the new environment and new people. Having a positive mindset is the most important thing when I started working in Ranau. The are lots to learn and I believe I have to keep an open mind in order to be able to face with the new challenges, and gain more experience from these things. So, being part of the Unduk Ngadau team for Ranau district is a new experience for me as I have to work with a new team and their new ideas. They are bubbly and fun to be with. Working together with them have never been so boring, but I still cannot ‘move on’ from being part of Unduk Ngadau team for Inanam. I guess I really miss to be with my friends and relatives in Inanam.

The winners. Arin Puang will be representing Ranau to compete in the State-Level’s Unduk Ngadau 2018.

I have never doubt my own ability but sometimes I forgot that there are things which I have been doing for such a long time. However, I am grateful because I have all the supports and encouragement from my bosses, and those who have been serving for Ranau District Office for years. The only thing that I need to brush up is my mother tongue. I do understand Dusun but I find it is hard to communicate because I usually speak English, Mandarin, and Malay in my daily routine.

These little dancers are very talented!

One of the experiences which I gained from their Kaamatan festival is the protocol part where I have my own big boss to visit each booth. It is a great experience in which I can learn from my boss. All thanks to my colleague, Ivy Suimin, for being so much fun to be with. She has taught me a lot from the day I came to the office. The best thing about Kaamatan festival in Ranau is that there are booths open for locals to sell their products and services. I could see their efforts to penetrate into the local market.

Ranau is a place where you can always find hidden gems and talents. This is the haven of the Dusun traditions. That’s why I would really love to learn more about Ranau, and share whatever that I can find from this place. In fact, Ranau is not only a tourism spot but also a place where you can find peace and serenity. Being able to experience the environment here in Ranau is the best thing I can ask for, and serving for the Ranau people is what I am looking forward to. If there’s anything I can help these people, I would love to help them in term of promoting their local products and services, giving them the opportunity to go beyond their ‘comfort zones’. I do hope that one day… Ranau will become a haven for foods and everything else, and the people in Ranau can enjoy and generate more income for their family.

Keddy Mahdfuz

Keddy Mahdfuz added a new photo – with Dayve Benggon Rampas and Fanzi Ruji.

Keddy Mahdfuz

She is so pweety.

I forgot to bring along my DSLR, anyway. I drove from my home in Manggatal at 5:30am and reached Ranau around 7:30am. I am glad that I could meet my friends, Fanzi Ruji and Keddy Mahdfuz, here in Ranau. I didn’t expect to see them in Ranau since I’ve never thought they would be invited to be one of the judges. I’m so glad to have them in Ranau, anyway. Opps! I know I can write unrelated post sometimes. I have so much to share with you but as for today’s post, I would love to share some of the Unduk Ngadau Ranau 2018 photos which I took using my iPhone X.

Till then! Kopivosian Tadau Tagazo do Kaamatan kumaa doid diau om savi-avi paganakan. Take care!

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