The launching of Kaamatan Festival (Harvest Festival) on May 1 every year marked the beginning of Kaamatan celebration, which lasts for a month. Today the world food shortage crisis makes Kaamatan more important, as rice is our main source of food. Sadly, more crop such as oil palm is planted to feed the cars (with biodiesel) than the mouth. Every year we got funding for aiding rice plantation. However, after many years, we still heavily count on imported rice. Now our government is crying for more fund. I wonder how the money was used in the past.
Mother’s Day also falls in May. That reminds me the story of Huminodun, the greatest Mother of mankind coz she sacrificed herself. Her spirit resided in the paddy and became the 7-in-1 Bambarayon (Rice Soul). But the harvesting and processing of the paddy will split these spirits apart. That’s why KadazanDusun people have Magavau ceremony, to recover the Rice Soul, to ensure a good harvest again next time. Sumazau dance is also performed to complete the ritual.
Beaufort town hosted the event this year. This is the 3rd year I come to launching of Kaamatan. And I never miss the chance to see the Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Queen) beauty pageant. There are a few things unique about this beauty pageant:
1. Traditional Costumes
It is a cultural beauty pageant to choose a figure to remember Huminodun. May is really the best time to see pretty ladies dress in finest traditional costumes. Since Kaamatan is celebrated by KadazanDusun and Murut people, you will see the contestants wear KadazanDusun or Murut costumes. Below are the 3 most common costumes worn in the competition:
Sometime you see them carry a towel. Not towel lah, just kidding, I forgot the name of that item. You would find each district has its own mix of costumes being displayed, usually represent the ethnic groups in that area. For example, some contestants from Kudat district would dress in Rungus costume. This is the first time I see Bisaya costume in Unduk Ngadau competition.
No offense ok. I am not making fun of it. Even my Kadus friends also think it is very old-fashioned and they wonder why the Mushroom Hair should be the “official” hair style for all Unduk Ngadau. Why ah? Anyone knows? I am curious to find out.
This is also a “feature” b’coz it is probably the only beauty pageant that doesn’t need shoes. Also no butt-shaking catwalk, show off poses and mouth pouting to purposely act sexy. Instead, the contestants will walk very slowly and pose gracefully. I like it coz it makes my photo-taking a lot more easier.
Let’s us pray for a bountiful harvest for the world. I got the photos of all the beauties. Please check them out. I lost the name list of the contestants so I couldn’t print their names. I will add the names later. Personally I like contestant no. 11.
Photos taken in Beaufort, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo