Kaamatan Festival

Kaamatan Festival

May 30-31
Kaamatan is a festival and public holiday in Labuan Territory and the state of Sabah in Malaysia. The festival is celebrated by the Kadazan or Dusun people (also known as the Kadazandusun), the largest indigenous ethnic group in Sabah, which lies on the northern tip of Borneo. Originally headhunters, they were the first native group in Borneo to use the plow. Irrigated (not flooded) rice is their principal crop, and the harvest is a ritual dedicated to the Bambaazon, or rice spirit. If the harvest has been good, this is a thanksgiving, and if it has been poor, the ritual is an appeasement of the spirit. The Kadazans believe that spirits reside in natural objects, and rituals are conducted by shamanist priestesses. Besides the solemn aspects of the festival, there is much merrymaking and free flowing of rice wine. This festival is celebrated during most of the month of May throughout the region with carnivals, special exhibits, sports competitions, a beauty pageant and a regatta, all leading up to the rituals on May 30-31 in Penampang.
CONTACTS:
Sabah Tourism Board
Mail Bag 112
88993 Kota Kinabalu
Sabah, Malaysia
www.sabahtourism.com/en
Kadazandusun Cultural Association
Hongkod Koisaan, Km. 7
Penampang Rd. WDT 39
Sabah, Malaysia
6088-713-696; fax: 6088-713-350
www.kdca.org.my