KUALA PERLIS: The Perlis state government host a Gawai Day celebration for Sarawak athletes competing in Sukma XVII at Ocean Glow Banquet Hall here Sunday.
The Sarawak contingent was grateful to the host state for the gathering to mark the Gawai Dayak.
The Dayak athletes were especially happy as the celebration eased their feeling of homesickness and made up for not being able to celebrate the special day at home with their families.
High jumper Jonathan Tinggang Ngabang, who is a Baketan, told The Borneo Post yesterday he was excited to celebrate Gawai day in a different way this year as he has never been to any official Gawai functions.
“During Gawai day Baketans, normally slaughter pigs a day before Gawai. Our Gawai celebration style is very similar the Ibans,” he added.
Jonathan had completed his events but stayed on to cheer Sarawak athletes still competing in the games.
Meanwhile hockey player Elliekha Jimmy who is a Bidayuh from Mongkos, Serian commented she was happy to be celebrating Gawai in Perlis.
“Gawai could be the same in my village every year. Although I do miss my home right now but the opportunity to represent the state in Sukma does not come often,” she said.
The Gawai Day celebration with the Sarawak Sukma Contingent event was attended by Works Minister Datuk Fadillah Yusof and Sarawak Assistant Minister of Youth Development Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah with Raja Muda of Perlis Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail as guests of honour.
Assistant Sarawak chef-de-mission Gerald Rentap Jabu had earlier said the event organisers decided to celebrate the Gawai here in full Dayak traditional values and ceremonies.
All guests of honour were given a traditional Dayak welcome and Tuanku Syed Faizuddin and his wife were given Dayak ceremonial garments upon their arrival at the venue.
The crown prince won the hearts of those present who applauded his lively speech when he started the Gawai celebration.
“As hosts, we try our very best to keep you happy here during your stay here competing at the Sukma XVII. I am also honoured that Sarawakians have decided to celebrate Gawai here in Perlis and invite me to officiate at the ceremony,” he commented during his speech.
He later cut the Gawai cake which was his gift to the Sarawak contingent.
Among the other guests were personnel of the 4th Royal Rangers Regiment based in Perlis.
The Sukma XVII ends tomorrow.