Location : Kampung Padang Pan, Bau, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.
Although this is usually a small and private affair for some households who still practise a traditional life of rice planting we were nevertheless invited to participate with the families of Mac from Padang Pan village.
Mac is just slightly over 20 years old he holds a gigantic post as a Ketua Adat or ‘Customary Head’ of his village. Very rare and unusual for someone his age but he has come a long way under the apprenticeship of his master/sifu Mr Anyan the Ketua Adat of Gumbang. While many kids his age would be busy partying, he is damn serious about his job and the responsibility to perpetuate the original Bidayuh religion which has been pushed aside by mainstream religion. We watched and learned as Mac performed the ritual with occasional incantations thanking the Bidayuh’s Supreme God they call Topa, the dewas they call Kamang and also the lower spirits that control pests and negative elements which could otherwise harm a good harvest.
Most Bidayuh villagers have done away with paddy planting as they find jobs in the city. More economically viable agriculture options like oil palm, rubber and pepper have slowly but surely replaced rice cultivation. So my question is ‘will gawai padi be replaced with gawai sawit, gawai ladah…..’ eventually? Will Mac have to change his mantra? Whatever the eventuality I will always enjoy this colourful celebration. Please pass me the tuak. Cheers!
To see more photos, please click our FACEBOOK PAGE