Monday, May 31, 2010

Gawai Dayak - Day to remember their ancestors

GAWAI Dayak is a harvest festival celebrated by the Dayaks -- comprising all of Sarawak's indigenous tribes -- with offerings of traditional delicacies and tuak (home-made rice wine) made to the gods of rice and prosperity.

It dates back to 1957 and was gazetted as a public holiday on Sept 25, 1964 in place of Sarawak Day. The first official celebration was on June 1 the following year.

To many Dayak youngsters, Gawai Dayak may simply mean another public holiday for merry-making.

But for Wilfred Syed Pilo, 45, Gawai Dayak is a day to remember his ancestors of warriors and headhunters.

"Family members may have their own beliefs and faiths but we remember our ancestors and their sacrifices as without them, we would not be what we are today."

On the day, it is a ritual among the elders in the family to give offerings to the dead through the miring ceremony and to ask for prosperity and good health.

"I would always seek in my prayers that I will be strong to face any future undertakings," he said.

Pilo said most Sarawakians would catch up with family and friends over large meals and drinks.

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