As we approach the end of May, Malaysians of Kadazandusun and Dayak heritage will celebrate Kaamatan and Gawai respectively. In the spirit of togetherness encompassed in 1Malaysia, I wish all Sarawakians a very happy Gawai day and “gayu guru gerai nyamai!” To all Sabahans, I wish you “Kotobian tadau tagazo do Kaamatan!”
The annual celebration of the harvest of rice is greeted with a manifestation of thanksgiving to express gratitude and appreciation for another good harvest and is also a time to plan for the new farming season or other endeavours ahead.
Even as Malaysians consume rice daily, we have the tendency to overlook the importance of rice. Paddy growers require an ample amount of water to cultivate rice and Malaysia is blessed with just the right amount of rainfall to grow rice. Our fellow Malaysians in Sabah celebrate Kaamatan to remind themselves of the blessings received as a result of the bountiful harvest.
Meanwhile, Hari Gawai is observed as a symbol of unity, aspiration and hope for the Dayak community. In true Malaysian fashion, the Dayak community will perform gotong-royong to prepare for the major festival by cleaning, repairing and painting their longhouses or houses, together.
In retrospect, Malaysia is a melting pot of cultures, blessed with resources that all Malaysians can be thankful for. We must be appreciative of the realities where all Malaysians regardless of background, race, religion and political affiliation can come together and have the privilege to celebrate the blessings of our fellow Malaysians, together.