Never lose sight of the origins and cultural aspects of Kaamatan, says Kadazandusun youth leader

KOTA KINABALU: Those who celebrate the annual Kaamatan festival have been asked to reflect on the cultural aspects and the origin of the occasion to ensure its continued relevance.

Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Youth Council Chairman Steve Johnny Mositun said that Kaamatan, or harvest festival, is a celebration of thanksgiving after a bountiful harvest of paddy and other crops.

He said that in the past, most of the Kadazandusun Murut and Rungus (KDMR) indigenous communities of Sabah depended mainly on paddy plantation for their livelihood.

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“Today it is more about sharing culture like language, dance, traditional costumes and food as rice planting is no longer the main source of economic activity for most natives,” he said here on Tuesday May 31.

“It’s also about sharing our KDMR ethnicity, music and lifestyle with the world so they can understand and appreciate our diverse and unique cultures,” Steve said.

It is therefore vital that the public and the organizers focus more on these aspects and highlight this heritage, he added.

“Although Kaamatan is a celebration for the whole of Sabah, it shouldn’t just be about partying and drinking alcohol, and it shouldn’t be the highlight of an event,” he said. he said in response to claims on social media that Kaamatan was more of a drinking occasion than a cultural showcase.

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He said there’s no denying that alcohol consumption is part of the statewide celebration, but it would be best if such consumption was done in moderation.

He said that in the past, the natives drank local beers like lihing and tumpung (different variations of rice wine), but today they have a range of drinks to choose from.

“We can’t stop people from drinking what they want, or how they want to celebrate Kaamatan, but hopefully we all drink responsibly,” Steve said, adding that it depends on the individual.

He said that for bodies such as KDCA, which hosts the opening and closing ceremonies of the Kaamatan festival, the priority has always been to showcase culture.

READ ALSO : Kaamatan comes back to life with the return of traditional sports

“Various cultural activities such as Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Queen Contest), Sugandoi (Singing Contest) and ‘Piboian HIIS’ which is a singing, speaking and poetry reading contest in the kindergarten, are planned,” he said.

Stalls selling handicrafts, local cuisine, etc., as well as traditional sports and games, will always be part of the festival, he added.

“Take your time visiting the booths, checking out the programs and activities…you might be surprised what you’ve been missing all this time,” he said.

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