Spirits high despite no Kaamatan fanfare this year, says Huguan Siou

Young girls from the Murut community all smiles despite there being no grand Kaamatan celebrations this year in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

KOTA KINABALU: The Kadazandusun Murut people remain in high spirits despite being unable to celebrate grandly the annual Kaamatan festival.

Huguan Siou (paramount leader of the community) Joseph Pairin Kitingan said this was obvious when viewing the numerous WhatsApp messages and sharing of old Kaamatan and sentimental traditional songs.

He said this was proof that Sabahans had adapted to the new norms and resorted to other smart ways to show their thanksgiving and keeping the Covid-19 virus at bay at the same time.

“The movement control order has affected the holding of activities connected to our sacred Kaamatan Festival this year,” Pairin, who is the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) president, said in his address for the festival, which culminates this weekend.

Huguon Siou and KDCA president Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

Last March, the KDCA announced the much-anticipated celebration will not be held this year due to the pandemic.

Every year, the grounds of the KDCA in Penampang near here will be filled with cultural activities and stalls selling a variety of food and drinks, attracting thousands of locals and visitors alike.

The highlight of the Kaamatan, which is a time for thanksgiving for bountiful harvests and to get together to feast and renew communal relationships, is usually the crowning of the Unduk Ngadau beauty pageant on May 31.

Despite last-minute efforts to hold the pageant as a closed-door event, with strict health measures in place to ward off Covid-19 infections, it has since been postponed.

Peter Anthony, the state-level Kaamatan central organising committee chairman, said a new date would be announced later.

Pairin paid tribute to the community for their contributions in fighting the virus and accepting that public health must come first.

He said KDCA will extend its support to those in the community needing assistance.

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