Kaul Fest continues as pride, identity of Melanau community

Kampung Klid JKKK chairman Kujang Chalang (left) accepts the RM5,000 allocation from Fatimah.

Kampung Klid JKKK chairman Kujang Chalang (left) accepts the RM5,000 allocation from Fatimah.

DALAT: The annual Kaul Festival remains an event that is clearly identifiable to the Melanau community in Mukah Division.

The one celebrated at Kampung Klid on Monday, which was graced by Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, was a spectacle that exemplified the spirit of unity among the Melanaus as well as the will to preserve the culture and tradition of the community.

The village is quite remote — one can catch a boat here and reach there in about an hour; or travel via helicopter.

At the festival, Fatimah — who is Dalat assemblywoman — also presented RM5,000 from her Minor Rural Project (MRP) fund to the village’s security and development committee (JKKK).

The Kaul Festival is celebrated at different times, according to its hosts. The celebration at Kampung Narub came a day after the one in Kampung Klid.

The next hosting venues would be Kampung Medong on New Year’s Day; Sungai Kut Muara and Sungai Ud next March; followed by Oya and Mukah town in April.

Kaul Festival began as a celebration by the Melanau Liko (pagan) before the arrival of Christianity and Islam in Sarawak — held to mark the end of the rainy season and also to welcome the fishing season.

It was meant to appease the spirit guardians of the sea so that they could assure fishermen of a good catch and also safety while at sea. Additionally, villagers would also seek blessings from the spirits to give them prosperity and keep them away from diseases.

Nowadays, it has become a social and cultural identity of the Melanaus, in which every event now would include various activities such as games and competitions — all aimed at promoting unity and kinship among every member of the community.

The event in Mukah — touted as the ‘Mother of All Kaul Festivals’ — has been attracting visitors from near and far over the years.