New Itinerary For This Year's Kaamatan
PENAMPANG (Sabah), May 27 (Bernama) --
Over the years, local residents and tourists have been flocking
to Hongkod Koisaan (which means the Unity Hall in the Kadazan
language), the venue for the state level Kaamatan festival
held every May 30 and 31.
Regular or repeat visitors already familiar with the traditional
houses, the multipurpose hall and the handicraft and food
stalls erected around the vicinity know what to expect during
the two-day programme.
However, this year the organizer, the Kadazandusun Cultural
Association (KDCA)of Sabah, has decided to go for a major
revamping, therefore visitors to the event can expect a
refreshing change, both with the itinerary and the facilities
for the harvest festival.
CULTURAL VILLAGE TO BE PROMOTED THROUGH TOURISM PACKAGES
The renewal literally starts at the doorstep, with visitors
greeted by the 'KDCA Cultural Village' arch which leads
them to a hanging bridge with a man-made pond underneath.
After crossing the bridge, there is a new open stage on
the left, and just further up, a handicraft outlet awaits
those interested in bringing home souvenirs. It would be
hard not to notice the new cafe next to it.
Also, some of the traditional houses now sport a new look.
"Renovation work on landscaping and those on traditional
houses started about two months ago."
"Most of the houses have been given touch-ups, but
we even went to the extent of demolishing one of the houses,
namely the Tambunan house, and erected a new one,"
said KDCA Secretary General Suman Yasambun.
CENTRE TO BE USED EVEN AFTER KAAMATAN
While some may think that all the preparations may be too
much, compared with previous years, there is actually another
reason for it.
After the Kaamatan celebrations end, the KDCA Cultural
Village will be promoted as a tourism destination through
a joint venture company to generate year-round economic
activities at Hongkod Koisaan.
KDCA and Tombituon Enterprise had jointly established KDCA
Cultural Village Sdn Bhd to manage the Cultural Village,
which would largely promote the 11 traditional houses through
daily activities for visitors and tourists.
"Over the years, local and international tourists
alike have been crowding this place during the Kaamatan
"KDCA is embarking on this new area of advancement,
we want to use these traditional houses for money-making
activities," said Suman.
At the same time, they also hope to provide an educational
avenue for students and younger people, to remind them of
traditional cultures and their ancestor's activities through
demonstrations to be held at the houses.
"Most of the youths nowadays are not familiar with
their own cultural background, so if we introduce this tourism
product, it can also give them some knowledge and maybe
they will get to know traditional rituals or tools used
from the olden days," he explained.
UNDUK NGADAU ON BOTH DAYS
On the itineraries, the highlight of the celebration is
the Unduk Ngadau or the Harvest Festival beauty pageant.
George Mijin, the programme head for the state-level Kaamatan
celebration, said that previously the event was held on
the second afternoon with results expected at the end of
However, this time around the first round will be held
on the morning of the first day and the 15 short-listed
finalists will continue on to the finals on the second day.
"The beauty contest is usually held inside the multipurpose
hall, but this year we will hold the first round on May
30 at the open stage to accommodate a bigger audience."
At the same time, George said that this year's state-level
Kaamatan celebration will also showcase, for the first time,
a 'menabib' demonstration, which is the ancestral art of
making 'lokub'(rope) using rattan.
This rope, back in the old days, was tied onto the buffalos'
pierced nose and used to pull the animal, he explained.
"This demonstration is specifically requested by our
KDCA President, Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, and the
art originates from Tambunan, his district of origin,"
Another new element that the public will get to see this
year is the symbolic 'moginum orang tatana' ceremony during
the launch of the celebration, which is unique to the district
of Kuala Penyu, which is the district chosen for the launch
of the next Kaamatan festival, said George.
MAY THE BEST HOUSE WIN
This year, there will also be a contest for the Best Organised
Traditional House, where judges will evaluate not only the
houses, but also how housekeepers receive guests.
Suman who is also Keningau/Sook district KDCA chairman
and head of the Keningau House in Hongkod Koisaan, invited
the public, especially the people from Keningau district,
to come and visit the house during the celebration.
Among other traditional houses are Balai Tatamu Kuala Penyu,
Lamin Lotud Tuaran and Sulap Papar.
BIGGEST CROWD EXPECTED
With all the new things introduced and KDCA kick starting
a new chapter, the organisers are confident that the number
of visitors to the state-level Kaamatan celebration this
year will increase.
Suman said that last year an overwhelming crowd of 50,000
visitors was recorded in the two-day event and they hope
to surpass that in 2011.
Meanwhile, at the State Assembly, Speaker Datuk Seri Salleh
Tun Said Keruak suggested that there is no need for separate
kaamatan celebrations at the state and national level. Suman
agreed that both celebrations should be combined.
"But at the same time, we hope that the state is entrusted
to organize the event since we want to ensure that the programme
remains true to the culture. We don't want to lose ethnic
elements along the way.
"Despite the limited area (about 3.2 hectares) within
the Hongkod Koisaan to hold activities, the national level
kaamatan celebration could still be held there because the
infrastructure is already there," Suman added.