Travelogue

Harvest Festival 2013

We took the morning flight from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Just in time for the first day of the annual harvest festival.

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The ethnic groups in Sabah used to celebrate the harvest at their respective tribal village.

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Since 1960, the various ethnic groups have gathered together to celebrate the festival.

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The celebration locates at Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) at Penampang district.

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If you like to meet the main ethnic tribes at one location, harvest festival is the place.

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One of the key highlight during the festival is the harvest queen (Unduk Ngadau) pageant. We saw many contestants joining the merry activities. I also saw the pictures of the harvest queen dated back from 1960 to 2012 in the museum of Sabah.

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Lots of drinking (rice wine and beer), dancing, singing and food tasting.

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There are many booths and replica houses to visit.

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It was fairly dim inside the long house.

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I boost my camera setting to the maximum aperture to gather any available light.

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Visitors can buy many handicrafts inside the long house.

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All the fun activities is to welcome the rice spirit.

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Visitors are welcome to join some of the dancing and fun activities.

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Shortly after our arrival at KDCA, the weather turned to heavy down pour. So I was stuck in the same booth for hour.

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All the participants were very friendly.

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The festival is also a form of thanksgiving. The concept of ‘huminodun’, the gratitude for the gifts of life is fairly interesting. Every major parts of human body represents various food and fruit. e.g. Head is coconut, teeth is corn etc.

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There are 6 to 7 rituals that leads to the harvest festival. The stages represent the life cycle of Bambarayon (rice spirit).

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We visited Mari Mari Cultural Village few days later, and we saw the replica of the ‘tangkob‘ outside Dusun house. Human skull hang above the rice basket to ‘bless’ the rice. Part of the Kaamatan celebration is to invite the rice spirit back to tangkob.

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My favourite part of visiting the harvest festival at Kota Kinabalu is the opportunity to meet genuine ethnic groups in their traditional costumes. I could not ask for a more centralized venue to experience the traditional culture (for free).

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The main tribes include Dusun Tangaa, Dusun Tindal, Tambanuo, Murut Tahol and Murut alumbis. Murut tribe is also famous (or notorious) of their head hunting history.

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