Tadau Kaamatan - Sabah

Posted by Tuan Rumah | 7:49 AM | | 0 comments »

In Sabah, the main festive event is Tadau Kaamatan or Harvest Festival, celebrated in a merry and grand manner with thanksgiving to the rice gods. For Kadazandusuns, an indigenous group representing almost 30 percent of Sabah’s multi-ethnic population, the Kaamatan is observed amid cultural and religious traditions. The Kadazandusuns believe rice has a spirit that should always be treated with reverence.
It is believed that their god, Kinoingan, sacrificed his daughter Huminodun to save his people during a great famine. From her flesh scattered all over the land sprang the first rice plants. Thus, the Kadazandusuns believe that Huminodun is embodied as the spirit of rice known as Bambazon.

The Kumogus ceremony

There are altogether six ritual stages for Kaamatan. The first is the Kumagos ceremony. Before a harvest begins, a Bobohizan (high priestess) will select, tie-up and put aside seven stalks of the best rice from a plot of rice field. Once when the crop on that particular field has been reaped, the Bobohizan will again visit the area and scatter the seven stalks of rice all over the field. This gesture is to inform the other spirits who may be present among the rice fields not to disturb the people during harvesting period and that each of the spirits will receive a `gift’ after the harvest.

The Kumotob ceremony

The second ritual known as the Kumatob ceremony involves a Bobohizan selecting another seven stalks of rice from the areas yet to be harvested. The selected stalks of rice are tied up and placed in a tadang (a type of basket). Following this process, the people finish harvesting the fields.

The Posisip Ceremony

The Bobohizan will go to a rice hut together with the seven stalks of rice kept in the tadang. While reciting chants, she takes out the rice stalks and inserts them in a bamboo pole kept in the tangkob (rice container). The chants invoke the spirit of the rice to remain in the rice hut until the next planting season.

The Poiib Ceremony

In the rice hut, the Bobohizan carefully pours the rice into the tangkob. This process is repeated several times until there is no rice left in the tadang. The Bobohizan then recites chants appealing to the rice spirits to watch over the rice stored in the tangkob.

The Magavau Ceremony

Pests, natural disasters or even the carelessness of farmers themselves pose threats to the rice spirit, Bambazon. The Magavau ritual is performed in the paddy field during the first full moon after the harvest. Moving in a single file, close to one another, the Bobohizans enter the `world’ of spirits in search of the `lost’ Bambazon to bring it safely `home’. Every time a stray Bambazon is located, piercing cries express joy at the find, ensuring the people would have another good harvest. This ritual is often held in the house of the owner of the field.

The Humabot Ceremony

During the final stage of the Kaamatan rituals conducted in the villages and districts in the Sabah state usually on May 30-31, gong-beating competitions, buffalo races and other traditional sports are held during the Humabot. Those present at the celebration are served chicken, eggs, meat and the best of tapai or rice-wine.
The highlight of the Humabot ceremony is the Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Queen) beauty pageant. The event pays respect to the legendary Huminodun. A selection is made among Kadazandusun beauties for one who best exemplifies the ascribed traits of Huminodun.