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By Lian Cheng and Karen Bong
PADAWAN, June 1: `The Bidayuh Word List’, meant to preserve the Bidayuh language for posterity, has already been “compiled, printed and available for sale now”.
Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong, himself a Bidayuh, described the word list as “almost equivalent to a dictionary”.
What has been most difficult to keep in the Bidayuh culture is its language, as many of its people migrate to urban centres, he told DayakDaily at the Authentic Gawai Celebration 2019 themed `One Heart, One Mind’ at Kampung Annah Rais Homestay, some 60km from Kuching, last night.
He emphasised that the primary objective of creating the word list was to preserve the Bidayuh language, which is different from the Iban Language, where there are four major dialects differentiated according regions, namely Serian, Padawan/Penrissen, Bau and Lundu.
Manyin, who is also Tebedu assemblyman, said the Bidayuhs of years gone by was very regionalised because of poor physical connectivity.
“But now, every part of the Bidayuh community is connected by roads, so we should be able to enhance our unity and cohesiveness. So, through this (Authentic Gawai Celebration), we will be able to make sure all Bidayuhs stay as one. That is why the theme is `One heart, One Mind’,” he said.
With better road connectivity, he said Bidayuhs from different regions managed to understand each other’s dialects better now.
On the Gawai celebration, Manyin described it as something “reminiscence of the past”.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, the Bidayuh community stays on the periphery of the city. Being that, a lot of them have actually gone to the cities and to the towns. As a result, a lot of them do not know the original part of our culture, especially the rituals.
“So, this (the celebration) is to revive and to make sure that our young boys and girls will know what was practised by our forefathers,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Assistant Minister of Transportation Datuk Dr Jerip Susil, who was the organiser of the event, said the festivity was intended to bring back all the traditional and cultural practices of the Bidayuh community, such as the rituals, dances and music as well as food.
“This year, we call it `Authentic Gawai’ because we want to remind our people that whatever we do, we come back to our roots.
“It is authentic because it happens in an original longhouse. Whatever we do is back to what it was before in the original spirit of the culture, in terms of food preparations, presentations, music, decorations, dances and rituals.
“We bring back our rituals again. We do it without any spiritual significance, but for all its cultural significance,” stressed Dr Jerip, who is also Mambong assemblyman. — DayakDaily