Nanta: Pekit Kumang Gawai showcases traditional costumes, not demeaning to Dayak women

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Nanta (centre) is seen at the pre-Gawai event with other dignitaries.

KAPIT (May 13): The Pekit Kumang Gawai competition seeks to showcase Dayak traditional costumes and is not demeaning to women from the community, said Dato Sri Alexander Nanta Linggi.

The Works Minister said the Dayak community is proud of its traditions, customs, and handicrafts.

“Dayak maidens participating in Pekit Kumang Gawai wearing their traditional costumers is not demeaning to Dayak women.

“It is to showcase Dayak traditional customs, because we Dayaks have a civilisation like any other communities. We are proud of our traditions and customs,” he said at a Pre-Gawai Dinner organised by Sarakup Indu Dayak Sarawak (SIDS) Kapit at the Kapit Civic Centre on Saturday.

He explained that Pekit Kumang Gawai is not just about beauty but a showcase of traditional customs.

“To organise the Kumang Gawai at the correct forum (Gawai dinner) reflects our customs. We are proud of our traditions, customs, handicrafts,” he said.

Nanta was responding to academician Prof Datuk Dr Jayum Jawan’s recent statement that Kumang Gawai pageants are demeaning to Dayak women.

According to Prof Datuk Dr Jayum Jawan, the beauty contest was never originally part of the harvest festival.

The professor, who is the Universiti Putra Malaysia Tan Sri Empiang Jabu Research Chair in Dayak Women’s Studies holder and an Academy of Sciences Malaysia fellow, had called on Dayak-based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to reevaluate holding the contest.