Gawai Dayak Festival 2013

| July 25, 2012 | 0 Comments

Thanking the gods of rice and prosperity at the Gawai Dayak Festival 2013

When it happens: June 2013

Where it happens: Sarawak, Malaysia

Gawai Dayak Festival 2013 will be celebrated the indigenous people of Sarawak in Malaysia. Gawai Dayak is a two-day harvest festival celebrated by the Ibans and Bidayuhs, indigents wearing their traditional costumes. The festivities will include ceremonial offerings of various local traditional delicacies. These foods, along with a home-made rice wine called ‘tuak’, are offered to the gods of rice and prosperity.

Gawai Dayak Festival 2013 will be celebrated with much expected enthusiasm. It is celebrated across Sarawak’s cities and villages. Gawai Dayak also honors the indigenous people of the Dayak community which are made up several tribes such as the Iban, Bidayuh, Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, and Murut tribes.

History of Gawai Dayak

The traditions involved in the Gawai Dayak festival may be ancient, but the holiday isn’t as old as its traditions. It was in 1965 that the first Gawai Dayak Festival was held after several years of renewed cultural pride within the oppressed Dayak community.

The colonial government was worried that several other minority groups would also demand a public holiday; they had to refuse the Dayak community’s demand for a public holiday. So instead, when Sarawak obtained independence, the holiday was officially changed as Gawai Dayak from Sarawak Day. The festival’s headhunting traditions had been toned down to be limited to using a chicken’s head to be removed and sacrificed to honor their gods for a successful rice harvest.

What to expect

Expect a lot of animal sacrifices as it is their tradition. Just be glad and thankful they are no longer using human heads. There will be competitions to observe such as war dances, cockfights, and even blowpipe competitions. The celebrations for the festival begin on the eve of May 31 with traditional music and ritual performed to keep the spirit of greed from ruining the celebration.

This ritual is called Muai Antu Rua and this is performed by two men dragging a basket along the longhouse and families in each room throwing some clothing and household items into the basket, which is later dumped on the ground as a sacrifice to prevent intervention from the evil spirits. Also expect some marriage ceremonies and family reunions being held in the midst of Gawai Dayak Festival 2013. This event is conducive for some family events and gatherings which is why it not uncommon to see these kind of events in the midst of the festivities. Guests are also offered tuak but keep in mind to keep it moderate if you fancy the taste of the local rice-wine.

Travel Tips

When planning to go to the Gawai Dayak Festival 2013, be sure to wear comfortable clothing and footwear because you will be treading a lot. If possible use clothes or cloth colors that would help you blend in with the locals or indigents. And most importantly, never refuse hospitality and a meal because, after all, Gawai Dayak is a celebration to thank the gods.


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Category: Calendar, Calendar 2013, Malaysia Festivals, Malaysia Holidays, Malaysia Public Holidays 2013, Public holidays

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