Maya 

KOTA KINABALU (May 16): Come the month of May, Sabah welcomes the Harvest Festival, which is a celebration of thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest by the Kadazandusun, Rungus and Murut (KDMR) people.

During this time of festivity, it has become a norm for every district where the KDMR people reside to select the Unduk Ngadau winner who will represent her respective district in the State-level competition.

It is an important event as the Unduk Ngadau competition is the pinnacle of the Harvest Festival celebration at every district and at the State level.

The term “Unduk Ngadau” when translated, means “The Emerging/Rising Sun” whereby the word ‘Unduk” means to emerge and to spring out, like a new plant sprouting out from the ground, while the word “Tadau” means the sun.

Such is the prominence and respect given to the Unduk Ngadau by the KDMR people.

Hence, it is not surprising that any disparaging remarks thrown at any contestants of the Unduk Ngadau contest, are frowned on.

Josephine

Last year’s Keningau Unduk Ngadau queen, Josephine Magdeline Joseph experienced it, and so did Sabah Unduk Ngadau, Maya Hejnowska.

Recently, a young woman who took part in the Tambunan district Unduk Ngadau contest became the latest victim of cruel comments over the social media.

Melonia

Melonia Lineri Loganathan, nevertheless, has decided to forgive her ‘negative commenters’ and shared on her Facebook account that she was doing alright and thanked her supporters.

“The support you have given is immaculate to the point that I don’t even bother about the negative comment already,” she wrote.

She also wrote that the issue of ‘body shaming’ needs to be addressed and should not be ignored as it needs to be halted.

Melonia also urged aspiring Unduk Ngadau contestants to join the pageant.

“To all sumandaks (young women), be confident and I encourage you to join the UN (Unduk Ngadau) because who else would elevate the KDMR tradition if not us? Don’t be afraid to push out of your comfort zone!”

Melonia also wrote that if she did not fit into the beauty standards, then she would be the new beauty standards.

The 2021 Keningau Unduk Ngadau winner, Josephine who experienced body shaming remarks last year said that she appreciated the support she got following the hurtful comments she received last year.

“I really appreciated them,” Josephine said when met at the opening of the State-level Kaamatan Festival celebration in Keningau earlier this month.

Meanwhile, 2021 Sabah Unduk Ngadau winner, Maya, was criticized for being ‘too white’. Chairperson of the 2022 Sabah-level Unduk Ngadau pageant, Tindarama Joanna Kitingan expressed her sadness and said the comments were shocking to read.

“Netizens can be unashamedly cruel in giving their comments to our beautiful and lovely young Unduks who have the courage to participate in the Unduk Ngadau cultural Kaamatan pageant.

Joanna said that most of the participants of the pageant in Keningau and in Tambunan were first timers who were keen to become confident in speaking their mother tongue in public, boost their confidence and also get a deeper understanding of their culture.

On Melonia, Joanna said that the contestant was of KadazanDusun and Indian descent who wanted to understand more about her mother’s heritage.

Joanna reproached those who resorted to body shaming the contestant, stating that no one has the right to judge anyone by just looking at their body shape.

“Shame on them. I have encouraged all the contestants that they were all winners and beautiful in their own ways and not to accept any comments that degrade them as young women.

“It is indeed a shame and heartless of those women who issued the disparaging remarks. What if they were your daughters? In this age of technology, people should watch what they post or comment about others,” said Joanna.

A total of 44 Unduk Ngadau will be joining the 2022 Sabah Unduk Ngadau pageant which will take place at the end of this month.