You may call it Murut festival. I was staying in Tenom for 3 days coz of this annual event. In general, this festival is to celebrate and honour Murut people and their traditions. Murut is the third largest indigenous group in Sabah, with a population of over 100,000. Murut got 14 sub-ethnics and their costumes could be very different from one another. One of the best time to see them is in Pesta Kalimaran held at Murut Cultural Centre.
Murut people are famous for three things: (1) Head-hunting (in the past), (2) Bamboo dance (Magunatip), and (3) Lansaran (a spring board). You can learn more about their culture in the mini-museum inside Murut Cultural Centre. To go to Murut Cultural Centre, you can take a mini-bus in front of Sri Perdana Hotel in Tenom. The Centre is about 15 KM away from Tenom town, and the one-way bus ticket costs RM2 (USD0.50). The earliest bus is available around 7:30 AM.
There were two highlights in this festival, namely, (1) Miss Kilamaran Beauty Pageant, and (2) Tilau Wedding ceremony by Murut Tagol. Besides, you can see hundred of Murut people wearing their traditional costumes. The Murut female costume we normally see in cultural dance performance is not so “traditional”. To make dancing easier, the dancers wear shorter skirt, use less accessories and the design is quite simple.
If you like those cultural stuffs like me, you would be really glad that you came. The Murut traditional costumes can be so colourful and beautiful. The embroidery is hand-made, so you find no two same design. Usually they use nature things such as flowers, wildlife, insect, trees, stars… for the picture design on the dress. One of them even got the wording “Sabah Boleh” on it. The Murut costumes presented in Miss Kalimaran Beauty Pageant were even more impressive. I found that the most colourful designs are from Murut Tagol. BTW, the Miss kalimaran this year is gorgeous. The moment she walked out, I already knew she would win. You can check out the photo gallery. I got some photos of her.
The Tilau wedding ceremony by Murut Tagol was also interesting. I consider Tilau the biggest wedding in Sabah coz it can take year to prepare. One of the tradition in Tilau is “Agiruandu”, all women dress like man, and “harras” the men who wear women cloth. It is just for fun. They also got “joker” in the wedding. The most important things are to eat and drink. I also tried a bit of Tapai. This local wine is very strong. If I drank too much, I would have danced among them already.