Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Gawai celebration in Perth

EVERY YEAR, the Dayak community in Perth look forward to celebrating their identity and passing on their legacy to the younger generation.

It is an occasion they treasure and where they come together to show commitment to their cultural heritage.

Every year in May, before the Sarawak Gawai on June 1, the community celebrate their Perth Gawai with friends from all walks of life and different cultures.

This year, the celebration – the 11th – was held at the Belmont Sports and Recreation Club. The programme included a welcoming speech from May Dan Lingoh in Iban and Lesley Wells in English.

A live band performance by Harvey and Karina of Klassworks Entertainment added much cheer to the occasion.

A mini cultural show, including a Kayan solo dance, performed by the community’s youngest dancer eight-year-old Joyce Julan Hill, drew thunderous aplause.  The Orang Ulu dance was performed by Rina Davenport who received appreciative comments and cheers.

Finally, the traditional Kajat Indu Iban, performed by Susan Carlisle, totally wowed the audience.

The Perth Gawai began in 2002 when May Dan and Anum Lingoh hosted their first celebration at their residence. As the number of guests increased, an organising committee was formed on May 5, 2004.

The first public Perth Gawai dinner was held at RSL Club, Riverton, on May 29, 2004. The same committee has been organising Gawai every year since then – mainly to get together to enjoy the festivities with family and friends.

Mena Westley, the veteran member of their community, has been appointed permanent Gawai advisor. She has been residing in Perth for 47 years.

Gawai has grown to become a symbol of unity, aspirations and hopes for the Dayak community as they strive for progress and prosperity along with their fellow Malaysians.

May Dan Lingoh said: “Throughout the festival, the Dayaks welcome relatives and friends to their homes to share in the joyous occasion. It is also to reciprocate the hospitality extended by the other races during their festivals.

“It is in this spirit we in Perth organise our Gawai – to come together to share our love, hope, joy and faith.”

KT Sawan chimed in: “This (Perth) Gawai was planned many years ago by the or-ganising committee with no intention other than to continue the tradition to get together. It is non-exclusive and involves Kelabits, Lun Bawangs, Muruds, and Ibans. Some members of this community are the oldest Dayaks in all of Western Australia.

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