The well-known Kaamatan is the harvest festival of this country and is observed in May every single year to show gratitude to their beloved Rice God. The residents of this area use the name of “Tadau ka’amatan” when referring to the festival and they dress in their traditional costumes to celebrate it. Just like in the majority of traditional agricultural communities, the ancient theories and practices of those who inhabited the region in the past have led to a multicolored annual thanksgiving celebration crowded with rituals, meaning, and a plethora of symbols. Kaamatan Harvest Festival is definitely the biggest celebration that is state wide and observed all over North Borneo for an entire month. That being said, the region is without a doubt one of the best places to visit Malaysia in May, so make sure to check it out.
Those who choose to explore Sabah will have the unique opportunity to enjoy the rituals of Kaamatan all over the month of May, both in rural communities of Murut and Kadazandusun and in numerous other tribes who have adopted this lovely tradition of thanksgiving. These spectacular rituals finish with a state-wide festivity that takes place at the end of May and that has become an impressive national event. If you want to take pleasure in the most forceful historical tribal practices, you should totally go to the rural communities of the Kadazandusun, which are situated in the Penampang-Papar region. There are so many things to do during the Harvest Festival that you’ll surely be amazed by the variety and significance of each and every one of them.
Kaamatan in Penampang begins with the Kumogos ceremony. During this ceremony, a Bobohizan (which is a high priestess or priest) selects seven stalks of rice and spreads them throughout the paddy field. This practice is meant to pacify the spirits that may exist in the field and prevent them from interrupting the harvest. After this, the Kumotob ritual takes place. Other seven stalks are chosen from an un-harvested part of the field by the Bobohizan and stocked up in a rice basket to be utilized as seed for the upcoming planting season.
The Posisip rituals are the next part of the festival, and during them, the Bobohizan sings chants over the stalks selected through the Kumotob. These chants are meant to beg the Rice Spirit to stay in the rice barn until the next season. Additionally, during the Poiib rituals, the harvested rice is placed in a tangkob, which is a container designed for storing the rice. After this, the Bobohizan recites chants asking the Rice Spirit to take care of the harvest.
Magavau- Salvaging the Rice Spirit
Travelers usually see the Magavau rite as the most beautiful part of Kaamatan. This ritual celebrates the homecoming of Bambarayon, who is the Rice Spirit. A Bobohizan carries out a sophisticated dance, along with chanting and episodes of falling into trances, to seek the lost parts of Bambarayon, sloppily dropped or “injured” throughout the harvest.
Humabot- Celebrating the harvest
After having performed all these essential rites, persuaded and brought Rice Spirit back, Kadazandusun can now rest and have a good time. The Humabot ceremony is the final part of the Kaamatan festival and has considerably progressed over the last years. Now, the ceremony is observed on a vast scale throughout the state of Sabah on May 30 and 31 every single year. Among some of the most traditional things to do in Malaysia during the Harvest Festival, we should mention the Unduk Ngadau beauty parade, which entails the harvest festival queen’s crowning. This pageant is derived from the legend of Huminodun. The young lady chosen as the Unduk Ngadau (which means “zenith of the sun”) ought to possess all the honorable qualities Huminodun is thought to have owned – courage, strength, beauty and kindness.
As an international traveler wondering what to do in Malaysia on May, the Harvest Festival will be an unforgettable experience. The beautiful ceremonies, the customs and traditions, and ultimately, the people, will help you know more about the country and where to go in Malaysia to have a good time.
All things considered, you should definitely attend the Kaamatan Festival on the 30th and 31st of May. You will enjoy a thrilling and unique ambiance where locals sing, dance and have a whale of a time. Plus, you can visit the numerous ethnic homes and take pleasure in the local foods offered there, as well as in the traditional games that are organized for you.
Malaysia is a sacred country with customs and traditions that must be left intact. Travel responsibly and do not harm the territory in any way. Make sure to recycle and value their beliefs regardless of your religious. Worldwide voyageurs must do their best to protect the places they’re attending thus offering other the chance to see beautiful Malaysia in the future as well.