KUCHING, June 1: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg says Gawai Dayak is more than a harvest celebration as it has evolved into a festival that connects all Sarawakians.
He said that Sarawakians’ aspiration of developing a unified, harmonious and free Sarawak is reflected through the celebration.
“Gawai Dayak as it is understood today is a thanksgiving day marking the end of a harvest season while looking forward to a promising year ahead.
“But more importantly, Gawai Dayak has grown beyond a mere harvest celebration and it has evolved into a force of unity and a symbol of Dayak aspiration and hope in a harmonious and free Sarawak,” said Abang Jo in his Gawai Dayak message.
Recalling the history running up to the formation of Malaysia, Abang Johari said during that time, Tun Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Temenggong Jugah Barieng addressed his father Tun Abang Openg as “menyadi”, meaning ‘brother’ in Iban and such practice of calling those of other races as “madi” or “menyadi” is still very much alive today.
“I can remember very well the late Tun Jugah who used to come over to Kuching to visit my late father, Tun Abang Openg, greeted my father as ‘menyadi’ which is Iban for ‘brother’.”
“This kind of affection among the people of Sarawak is not only limited to the leaders as has been the practice for people of different races in Sarawak to show their closeness to each other.
“Even today some of us still and do greet each other as ‘madi’ or ‘menyadi’ and we are proud that Sarawakians are able to live as brothers and sisters.”
“Difference in religion and race are no barriers for us to live as one harmonious people in Sarawak and the difference in our political belief should not create a wall between us,” said Abang Johari.
He said an international event to showcase Dayak culture and tradition involving also Dayak communities from a neighbouring country will be held in Kuching on June 22 where a procession is expected to be held.
“The 1.5 kilometre procession that will end at Kuching Waterfront shall be a unique display of Dayak traditional costumes with the accompaniment of enchanting Dayak music and dances. I sincerely hope that our Dayak friends from all over Sarawak will make it a point to come to Kuching on the date to witness this great occasion,” said Abang Johari. — DayakDaily