Friday, June 02, 2017

Kaamatan Harvest Festival - The rice festival of Sabah

Not so very long almost all the natives of Sabah used to grow rice.

The Pesta Kaamatan is Sabah’s very own, rice harvest festival.

Planting of rice was the mainstay of their diet and there were many taboos and customs regulating the planting of rice to ensure a bountiful crop in the old days.

As most of our people have now converted to various other religions, most have forgotten about the true meaning of the rice harvest Festival.

In the old days it was a form of giving thanks to the Rice Spirit “Bambarayon or Bambazzon for an abundant harvest and to ensure that they would have another successful rice crop the following year.

It used to be celebrated during the full moon after the rice harvest in each village.

In the old days only one crop of rice would be grown in a year and it was extremely important that the crop was bountiful.

This was especially true with the Kadazan, Dusun and Murut people, who were all growers of rice in Sabah.

They each had their own social orders and religious belief systems in which the female Bobohizans ( Traditional Priestesses of Sabah) played the most important role.

Historically, the British Colonial office of Sabah (North Borneo in the old days) finally condescended in declaring a 2-day Public Holiday to the natives after their leaders asked for it. (OKK Sodomon of Bingkor, Keningau, is the main person main accredited with this as he was the main local leader who approached the Colonial Government for this holiday.)

Today this festival of the rice harvest is celebrated on a very grand scale on the 30th and 31st of May annually at the KDCA ( Kadazan Dusun cultural Centre).

However in the old days the festival would usually have been celebrated in the village by bobohizans performing ceremonies to the rice spirit followed by much feasting and merry making.