KOTA KINABALU: The Kaamatan festival this year not only marks the end of the harvest season, but is also a meaningful time for the Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) community to celebrate unity and integration.
The sentiment is accentuated by the theme ‘Peace and Friendship,’ which underscores this year’s celebration and commemorates the amity observed in Sabah.
Albert Mark Maguring, 43, said that harmony in the State can be seen clearly through the involvement of its various ethnic groups, no matter what the celebration.
“Without camaraderie between the people from all walks of life, there will be no peace, and peace is the number one factor in building a nation,” said Albert, who attended the State-level Kaamatan celebration at the Kadazandusun Cultural Association (KDCA) building here yesterday.
“I agree that through this celebration, we make new friends and meet with old ones that we probably only meet once a year. From there, we foster a stronger bond as we forgive and forget old misunderstandings during the festive season.”
Albert, who is a music lecturer for the Department of Visual Arts and Music at the Institut Pendidikan Guru (IPG) campus in Keningau, also commended Sabah for being a good example of cultural integration.
He added that Sabah has been recognized nationally as one of the best examples of a 1Malaysia community.
“Aside from Sarawak, Sabah is the best place for tourists from in and out of the country to see for themselves the way a multi-ethnic community lives together in harmony and celebrates this festival.”
As for visitors from out of town, Kaamatan is the time for them to have hands-on experience and immerse themselves in the celebration.
Janet Lenshing, 24, was eager to witness the festival along with her group from the Sandakan Society for the Deaf.
“What intrigues me about this celebration is its unique culture portrayed through craft work, lifestyle, cultural costumes, food and traditional items,” said Janet, who was excited to get a peek into the life of the KDM community.
Janet’s enthusiasm was shared by 27-year-old Gan Ying Shi, who intentionally came to Sabah for the Kaamatan season.
Hailing from Kuala Lumpur, Gan flew over specially to see the much talked about celebration for herself.
“I came here because I was compelled to take in the whole cultural experience in Sabah, what with its various handicrafts, performances, costumes and traditional activities carried out by earlier generations,” she said.
Similar to Gan, 27-year-old Vinodhini, also came from Kuala Lumpur, but headed to the Kaamatan experience here after joining in the Gawai festivities in Kuching.
She noted the diversity of cultures in Sabah, which is reflected in the many ways of life practised by its people.
“It’s very different from the way it is in the Peninsula, as there are many more ethnic groups here,” said Vinodhini.