Kaamatan, Gawai, and Panen Celebration at CDM

Article written by Jeannette D’Netto

The Church of the Divine Mercy was engulfed in a sea of colours as the faithful from all walks of life gathered to share in the KAGAPE (‘Kaamatan’, ‘Gawai’ and ‘Panen’) 2022 harvest festivities recently.

The celebration kicked off with Holy Mass celebrated by Reverand Fr Michel Dass accompanied by con celebrants parish priest Rev Fr Alan Pereira and visiting priests Rector of College General, Major Seminary, Penang, Rev Fr Simon Labrooy and Rev Fr Surain Durai Raj.

The KAGAPE 2022 celebration kicked off with Mass in thanksgiving to God for a bountiful harvest

Themed “Celebrating Diversity as One Community”, KAGAPE 2022 put a spotlight on the importance of cross-culture awareness and appreciation, be it between East Malaysians and West Malaysians, or even between different ethnicities.

The faithful donned their respective traditional wear with pride representing the likes of Kadazan-Dusun, Bajau, Iban, Bidayuh, Indian and Chinese ethnicities. The unique sounds of traditional instruments like the Sape accompanied hymns throughout mass, capturing the joyful celebration of thanksgiving for the year’s bountiful harvest received from the Lord.

An instrumentalist playing the Sompoton, a mouth organ originating from northern Borneo made from a gourd with bamboo pipes.

As a means of crystalising the essence of KAGAPE 2022, the Komuniti Umat Bahasa Malaysia (KUBM) and Tamil Apostolate community collaboratively created a 10sq ft Rangoli Kolam which was unveiled on the day.

The 10 sq ft KAGAPE 2022 Kolam designed and made by KUBM and Tamil Apostolate collaboratively

“Malaysia is a melting pot of races and cultures. Similarly, as a Church, we come from different backgrounds, different life experiences and different cultures yet we are unified in the Body of Christ. This celebration is important firstly in bringing the parish together, recognising the strength in our bond as community. Secondly, we believe in giving thanks to God, our provider who continues to bless us with good things,” said Fr Alan.

A fellowship lunch after mass treated parishioners to a mix of western cuisines and an array of delicacies from Borneo. Inspired by recipes passed down for generations, homemakers painstakingly prepared authentic dishes such as Hinava, a raw fish salad popular in Sabah, Manuk Pansuk from Sarawak, better known as Bamboo Stalk Chicken, and a crowd favourite, roasted pork.

NIMBLE FINGERS. Basket weaving demonstration at CDM’s KAGAPE 2022 celebration

Various stations were set up to showcase the colourful artistry of East Malaysia. This included an exhibition of Sabahan and Sarawakian tribal art, ornaments, handicraft and musical instruments, each accompanied by an insightful background of its origins. Parishioners also had the opportunity to try their hand at beadmaking, a signature indigenous craft work native to Borneo.

A dancer floats gracefully across clapping bamboo poles during the Magunatip Dance (Bamboo Dance)

The faithful witnessed a graceful convergence of East and West Malaysia in the St Faustina hall as the Catholic Varsity Students (CVS) Society, Tamil and Chinese Apostolates showcased a number of dance performances. Among these were the Sumazau and Magunatip Dance, better known as the Bamboo Dance.

Fr Michel expressed appreciation to the communities involved with organising the KAGAPE celebration.

“It is truly amazing to see families and people of all ages coming together to embrace diversity and create a meaningful celebration for everyone in the parish. Well done to the team of volunteers who helped make KAGAPE 2022 a memorable celebration,” said Fr Michel.

Fun Facts

The Sape is a lute (plucked string instrument) traditionally played by natives of Sarawak specifically the Orang Ulu (upriver people) communities along the rivers of Central Borneo and Kalimantan. It is carved from a single bole of wood. Evolution of the instrument has given rise to the innovation of electric Sapes.

Hinava (raw fish salad) is a traditional Kadazan-Dusun dish often served during celebrations like the Kaamatan Festival or weddings. It is made with thinly sliced fresh fish, bitter gourd, lime juice, finely sliced shallots, bird’s eye chillies and fine strips of ginger.

Magunatip (Bamboo Dance), is a traditional dance performed by Murut people, who mainly reside in the interior districts of Sabah. Dancers put their feet in and out between clapping bamboo poles without being trapped.