Free shipping above RM100. Limited time only. *T&C Applied.

7 Interesting Facts about Gawai Dayak:

Sarawak's Festivity of Good Harvest and Harmony

It’s evident by many throughout the region that Sarawak is a land of natural wonder. Located on the island of Borneo, this oasis of lush green landscapes is one of the two Malaysian states on the island and is known for its diverse cultural traditions apart from its natural beauty.

The state’s vibrant mix of ethnic groups and cultures has contributed to a unique and thriving local heritage that is celebrated throughout the year in various festivals and events. One such festivity that represents the prominent cultural strengths of Sarawak is Gawai Dayak.


What is Gawai Dayak?

Sarawak’s Gawai Dayak festival is a time when the indigenous communities come together to celebrate their rich cultural heritage and traditions. It is a special time of year for the Dayak people, who are made up of various ethnic groups, including the Iban, Bidayuh, Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Murut, and others.


Here are seven interesting facts about Gawai Dayak:

Gawai Dayak has its roots in a 1957 radio forum organised by Mr Ian Kingsley, a radio program organiser. It generated a lot of interest among the Dayak community, but it was not until 1962 that the British colonial government recognized Dayak Day. After numerous requests, the First Sarawak Chief Minister, Datuk Stephen Kalong Ningkan, and his cabinet gave recognition to the Dayak race, and Gawai Dayak was formally gazetted on 25th September 1964 as a public holiday in place of Sarawak Day.

The first-ever celebration was hosted in the 60s

The first Gawai Dayak celebration was held in the 1960s, specifically on 1 June 1963, by Datuk Michael Buma, a distinguished publisher who hailed from Betong. The first-ever festivities took place in his residence located in Siol Kandis, Kuching. Soon after, the occasion became a staple event celebrated every year on the first day of June, spanning several days of grandeur and festivity. Ever since Datuk Michael Buma helped to get the ball rolling, Gawai Dayak has now become a symbol of unity among the Dayak people, a time to express gratitude for a bountiful harvest, and an occasion to offer prayers for a peaceful and prosperous future.

There are various delicacies attributed to Gawai Dayak

The first Gawai Dayak celebration was held in the 1960s, specifically on 1 June 1963, by Datuk Michael Buma, a distinguished publisher who hailed from Betong. The first-ever festivities took place in his residence located in Siol Kandis, Kuching. Soon after, the occasion became a staple event celebrated every year on the first day of June, spanning several days of grandeur and festivity. Ever since Datuk Michael Buma helped to get the ball rolling, Gawai Dayak has now become a symbol of unity among the Dayak people, a time to express gratitude for a bountiful harvest, and an occasion to offer prayers for a peaceful and prosperous future.

There are various delicacies attributed to Gawai Dayak

The mode of celebratory treats for Gawai Dayak varies from place to place, generally revolving around the preparation of ‘tuak’, a rice wine, and preparing traditional delicacies like ‘penganan’.

However, some of the more popular dishes associated with this festivity include Pansoh Ayam (the Iban term for chicken cooked in bamboo), an iconic ethnic dish prepared by cooking chicken meat in a freshly cut bamboo stalk. The chicken is first mixed with aromatics like onions, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, torched ginger flower, and galangal to enhance the flavour and then stuffed into the bamboo.

Freshable now presents a series of meal kits dedicated to Sarawak’s authentic culinary heritage. These featured easy-to-cook options are available now on our menu for a limited time only, including Pansoh Ayam and Motherwort herb and chicken soup, also known as ‘kacangma’ – is a delicious traditional Hakka dish originating in Sarawak. Don’t miss the chance to indulge in the authentic ethnic flavours of the East!

 

Traditional Customs of Gawai Dayak

Around 6 pm, miring, an offering ceremony, will take place, and the feast chief will thank the gods for the good harvest and ask for guidance, blessings and long life as he sacrifices a cockerel. Dinner will then be served at the ‘ruai’. At midnight, the gong is sounded, and the tuai rumah will lead everyone to drink the Ai Pengayu, normally ‘tuak’ for long life, and at the same time wish each other “gayu-guru, gerai-nyamai” (long life, health and prosperity).

There’s a ritual that takes place after dinner

Around 6 pm, miring, an offering ceremony, will take place, and the feast chief will thank the gods for the good harvest and ask for guidance, blessings and long life as he sacrifices a cockerel. Dinner will then be served at the ‘ruai’. At midnight, the gong is sounded, and the tuai rumah will lead everyone to drink the Ai Pengayu, normally ‘tuak’ for long life, and at the same time wish each other “gayu-guru, gerai-nyamai” (long life, health and prosperity).

Dress Code for Gawai Dayak

During Gawai Dayak, it is customary for Dayaks to wear the ‘ngepan’, a traditional costume comprising ‘marik empang’ (a chest ornament made out of beads), knee-length skirt, and a headgear known as sugu tinggi, coin belt and silver bangles.

Dance Traditions of Gawai Dayak

The Ngajat dance is a traditional dance form that is performed by both men and women during Gawai Dayak. The dance is known for occasional shouts and loud cries that add to the vibrancy of the performance. The dance form has several different types, each with a different mood such as harvest joy, warrior rhymes, and ritual cloth dance. The traditional band that accompanies the dance troop plays vibrant beats and tunes from traditional folklore, adding life to the dance.

Overall, the Gawai Dayak festival is a fascinating celebration that showcases the rich cultural heritage of all Sarawakians alike! It is a time to give thanks for the good harvest, renew social ties, and showcase their unique traditions to the world.

From the origins of the festival to modern practices, traditional customs, dress code, dance traditions, and food, there are many interesting aspects of this festival. Overall, the preservation of ancient culture and tradition is the core endearing aspect of this incredible annual occasion.

0
    0
    Your Cart
    Your cart is emptyReturn to Shop