Ethnics, Cultures & Religions

Archive for May, 2008

Happy Kaamatan & Gawai

The top and the second top pictures were taken at KDCA-Hongkod, 2008, the third below is Gawai beauties from Sarawak.

Sabah and Sarawak are celebrating their Kaamatan and Gawai respectively on May 30th and 31st. Those words mean to say celebration to mark the end of paddy harvesting season-Harvest Festival.

Just to remind my fellow cultural and ethnics enthusiasts, Kadayan ethnic together with Bisaya from Kuala Penyu are the only Muslim ethnics that were originally involved in paddy planting just as much as the non Muslim ethnics in the interior ( I am hopping somebody can tell me more about this )

There were two types of paddy plantings, one is padi sawah-wet padi and the other is  padi tuggal-hill padi.

Of course different ethnic groups have different padi rituals. I didn’t get a chance to see the Kadayan and Bisaya’s ways of respecting padi in as much as  I know  about the Kadazan and Dusun’s  through my reading. 

For the Lundayeh, being my close neighbour whose padi feilds were close to my parent’s I didn’t  see either. But what I long most, perhaps I will never to get to see again is the mucang-Kadayan’s word for gontong royong. In my parent’s padi field in those days regardless what ethnics and religion were neighbours all helping each other by turn. They did the mucang every padi season.


Lundayeh Lunbawang

Lundayeh ladies in their costume

by amde sidik

This is how I view Lundayeh community, briefly, from my perspectives. What others have to say is entirely up to them.

Lundayeh ethnic group  in Sabah concentrates  in Sipitang district, numbered about 10,000 (rough estimate).

They were one of the groups considered by the Brunai as Orang Darat* (ethnic that lives on the Upper land or hinter land) 

They were originally from North Western part of Kalimantan, Indonesia. Since Sipitang district shares common border with Kalimantan (not far from Long Pasia), thus quite natural for this group of people crossed the border in unorganized fashion.

They were rightly recognized as hill people rather than sea. Farming and agriculture are quite natural profession for them as fishing to coastal people

The very same people found in Fifth Division of Sarawak, ironically called Lunbawang instead. Nothing is different. The grandson probably is eating soto in Sipitang while the granddad is sipping tea tarik in Lawas overlooking Lawas River. In other words, they were the same root. The different perhaps is they are the same people in the eyes of other communities.The Sabah Lundayeh and the Sarawak Lunbawang couldn’t careless to agree with the name.

From the moment I opened my eyes I didn’t remember if they were differences between them and other communities nearby that I knew of. The only social dividing line is religion. Most modern Lundayeh are practicing Christian follower of a little group known as Sidang Injil Borneo found only in Borneo, but like any other ethnics they are Lundayeh Muslims too.

They have  fair skin. The young Lunadyeh boys and girls  aren’t have  such distinguishable complexion compare with other communities. They have their own language-some say dialect; the term I’m not that particular.

In Sipitang, they could be categorized as having two earlier  groups (I don’t think it matters but to some say they do) the earlier Lundayeh mostly from Sarawak, and some like to call themselves as Lunbawang too rather suspiciously or deviously. Notably they say this older group of migrants is milder and softer type compare with the latter.

The new arrival came directly from Kalimanatan as later as 70s, many were born in Kalimantan but benefited dual citizenship (Malaysia and Indonesia) by the very system,  the porous border system we have  in the jungle almost at the heart of Borneo. 

Among the important institutions which is still practiced to date by Lundayeh/Lundbawang together with other ethnics in Sipitang is Tamu Besar. Its the occasion when people  converged without borders regardless their ethnics or religions.

Whilst talking about myself, my grandfather was Lundayeh or Lunbawang? My birth certificate has this to display (/), Kadayan/Lundayeh, luckily it has nothing to do with religion otherwise someone has to korek-unearth my grave one day by the time I’m defenseless-wonder if  I have already settled somewhere midway or at the extreme end, heaven or hell? Could I not protest?


 *The Mystic of Borneo By Amde Sidik, published by Borneo Publishers for Malaysia Edition, 2008 (reprint) and Bookstand Publishing for International Edition, 2007


Race without borders

By C Ngaju

We can’t separate people from culture.

Culture like plants can die if it is not looked after. With globalization, stronger forces will definitely swallow up the smaller people. Their stories need to be told before they completely disappear.

Our intention by starting this blog, in a small way is to accommodate this little aspiration that we have left.

Many Borneo stories need to be shared with the world at large. How many people in Sabah know anything south of the border?

Borders are   good on paper only. Realities on the ground are totally different.

Tell the Lundayeh not to acknowledge their kin across the border, or for that matter tell the Kenyah priests from Kalimantan to stop crossing over to Sarawak to conduct their Sunday mass, you’ll probably get blank stares.

There are many Borneo stories.

I remember driving along the old Papar road one Ramadan, I noticed one side of the road was quite bright denoting that side was Muslim, whereas, on the other side the scene was normal, the villagers there were definitely not Muslim, yet, they were family.

If road is the demarcation line here, in Sarawak one side of the river could be Anglican, the other side Methodist!

Then, there are Muslim Kadazandusuns, and many more are Christians, it is the same with the Melanaus. At times their cultural identity appears to be stronger than their God!

Tell the Muslim Banjar in Kalimantan they are Malays; they will correct you by saying they are actually Dayaks! And, who are the upland people who call themselves Kadayan? They are Muslim, and then Islam is generally associated with the coastal tribes in Borneo!

Just imagine the variety of languages; customs, cuisines, native arts and crafts what have you practiced by these people.

It is simply mind boggling!

See the costume

%d bloggers like this: