Why a new festival was created

Gayu Guru, Gerai Nyamai – long life, good health.

THE Gawai Dayak, a festival of the non-Muslim indigenous peoples of Sarawak, was gazetted by the government in 1964 as a public holiday in the state. It has been celebrated ever since without fail.

After more than half a century of existence of its official recognition, the history buffs may be interested to find out why the festival was created, and then recognised by the government.

My information on Gawai Dayak has been obtained from various sources – verbal, written and personal knowledge. Others may like to help out with additional information of the history of the Gawai. They are welcome to add more information.

During the colonial era, several Dayak leaders were informally discussing the proposal of an official Gawai – among them were George Jamuh, Edward Jerah, Edward Brandah, Dr Mason, Ah Guan, Austin Jaga, Benedict Sandin, Pancras Eddy, members of the Sarawak Dayak National Union (SDNU), and its Women’s wing. And many more!

The intention was to discourage the holding of too many gawais, held at various longhouses and vill