Hari Gawai Dayak is celebrated every year on June 1 and 2 which is marked as an important festival in Sarawak. The Gawai Festival is celebrated by the Dayak community comprising the Ibans, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu to symbolise the end of the harvest season.
The next planting season will only begin in September, and so June is a month of rest and reward for those who had laboured over their rice fields. This festival is a yearly celebration as per the other major celebration in Malaysia.
Most Sarawakians celebrate the event and those who live in urban areas will most probably, once in a year, make the trip back to their respective villages. Usually, The distance back to their hometowns and villages can be as short as a 45-minute drive or as long as a 15-hour drive with most opting to travel via land. As it is an integral part of Dayak social life, On this thanksgiving day, good wishes are shared for a good harvest and a time to plan for the new farming season.
People returning back, cities the reason of just wanting to be with their family members during the festive celebration as the main reason for return.
The festival is also an extended celebration of appreciation before the start of the new farmer season.
Preparations for the festival begin early with the brewing of tuak (rice wine) and traditional delicacies like penganan (cakes from rice flour, sugar, and coconut milk). On Gawai Eve, glutinous rice is roasted in bamboo.
Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic this year, people are encouraged to celebrate it in a new way which is an Online celebration. Kaamatan (Harvest) Festival will be held online this year with two highlights, a beauty pageant known as Unduk Ngadau and a singers' competition called Sugandois.
Despite the different cultural practices and locations, we believe it will not stop Gawai Dayak from being celebrated together with the other Malaysian communities, as a way of respecting the long preserved tradition and the celebration is also translated into the context of a multi-cultural society with respect for each other to forge national unity.
Tin Media wishes Happy Gawai Dayak, Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai Lantang Senang Nguan Menua to all people of Sabah and Sarawak.
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