PESTA BABULANG means Harvest Festival in the language of the Bisayas, an Orang Ulu ethnic group found in Limbang, (northern Sarawak), Sabah and Brunei.
The Festival marks the end of the harvesting season and a bountiful harvest and welcomes a new farming cycle.
The Bisayas celebrate by donning their intricately-woven traditional costumes. Many of the women put on their traditional attire called baju masuk, comprising a sarong and a black jacket with embroidered motifs, while the men wear jackets and singan during the three-day celebration.
There is also an array of traditional activities such as singing, games, beating of gongs, cultural performances, dances, displays of handicrafts, beadworks and embroideries,traditional food competitions as well as boat decorations (perahu berhias).
The celebration will, of course, not be complete without the buffalo race and the much-awaited Ratu Babulang (Festival Queen) for which the community is known.
According to Sarawak Bisaya Association president Antonio Kahti Galis, Pesta Babulang is the most significant among all the festivals of the community and celebrated on a grand scale.
“It’s a joyous occasion as well as a thanks-giving ceremony for the bountiful harvest of padi and other crops,” he told thesundaypost.
Anotonia said in the old days, Pesta Babulang was celebrated on a small scale among family members and close relatives.
It evolved gradually, and in 2004, the Association mooted the idea of working with the relevant authorities in the state, including the Sarawak Tourism Board, to help promote the Festival, the community and their traditions and culture to the outside world.
“Now, our Festival is well-known not only in the state but in the country as well — thanks to the strong support and good cooperation from all involved. The Bisaya community owe them a hearty thank,” Antonio acknowledged.
The Festival is usually celebrated for three days.
The symbolic Tapi Manok kicks off the Nakod Babulang, followed by the traditional alai gandang parang and ancayau at the doorstep of the Batu Danau community hall where the Festival is launched before guests enter for servings of Babulang food.
Antonio said success of the Festival this year was a testimony to the solidarity and commitment of the community and Association to preserve their rich cultural heritage for the generations to come.
Continue reading (Incl. Pics) at: Pesta Babulang of the Bisayas of Borneo.