Gawai still a joyous event despite celebrating during CMCO

Tan Sri James Masing

By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, May 25: Despite celebrating the Gawai festival next week during the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) period, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing believed that it will still be a joyous occasion.

He asserted celebrating Gawai without visitation during CMCO is not against the Iban ritual ethics.

Masing who is Infrastruture and Ports Development Minister opined that celebrating Gawai with close family members will enhance bonding with each other whilst each family will be blessed by God with their offerings.

“Iban Gawai and its religious ceremony (miring/offering) which accompanies the rituals is very individualistic.

“Each family, is asked to give offerings to the gods or spirits who are in attendance. These divine beings are asked to assist the family who hold the Gawai.

“The assistance sought is very specific in nature and is focused only for their own family benefit.

“It is for this reason that each bilek are asked to make their own offering during Gawai festivity in the longhouse,” he said in a statement today.

Thus, he said, MCO (Movement Control Order) prohibiting visitation during Gawai was not against the Iban ritual ethics.

“It just reduces the merry making which accompany the religious festivities,” he added.

From his studies at the Australian National University, Department of Anthropology, Masing explained that due to divine beings in attendance, human beings, therefore, are asked to join the festivities.

The thesis which was undertaken by Masing during his doctorate studies at the Australian National University in Australia in 1997.

Hence, Masing believed the philosophy of more people who join the Gawai celebration will be merrier was gradually being practised in the local community.

Thus, he noted tuak and food are essential ingredients during Gawai festivity among the Iban.

“The gods who are invited to attend Gawai festivities, upon partaking in the feast, upon leaving, will give leave behind good blessings to family who hold the feast.

“The miring ceremony which accompany the state Gawai is just a symbol of a Gawai festivity.

“Gawai festivity is just  one of the Iban many  religious activities,” he added. -DayakDaily