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By Nancy Nais
KUCHING, June 17: It was a colourful display of traditional attire, performances, and dynamics of some 3,000 participants from 91 contingents when they proudly paraded themselves at the Niti Daun Gawai Dayak 2023 today.
Locals and tourists from all walks of life came to watch the procession, and most expressed appreciation for witnessing the beautiful and rich indigenous heritage of Sarawakians.
The ‘niti daun’ was celebrated as part of Sarawak’s 60 years of independence and the Gawai Dayak festival.
What made the event more lively was the presence of Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, who joined in the 1.2km parade with Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, organising chairman Datuk John Sikie Tayai, and other State Cabinet ministers.
The parade began at 2.15pm after Abang Johari hit the gong seven times as a symbolic gesture to launch the event.
Dignitaries and participants from non-government (NGO) Dayak bodies, government departments, Dayak cultural associations, community leaders, and Dayak communities marched from Tunll to the Darul Hana Bridge at Kuching Waterfront.
Also participating in this year’s parade were the Veterans Ranger Army Association (Sarawak Rangers) and Dayak Brave Singles.
Earlier at 1pm, a special ‘miring’ ceremony (ritual) was conducted inside Tun Jugah Mall as a symbolic opening to ensure that everyone’s journey is smooth and free from all obstacles.
As they marched along the 1.2km stretch, some contingents showcased their own unique traditional dance according to their ethnic group.
Along with them, lorries turned into chariots where their musicians played the drums and gongs.
Despite the scorching heat, it was an amazing display of Sarawak’s indigenous cultural identity.
Some of the contingents even walked barefoot and danced along the way.
A couple from France told DayakDaily that they were surprised but escalated to witness such a beautiful and colourful event, prompting one of them to run back to their hotel room to grab their digital camera.
They also said they had witnessed the diversity and uniqueness of Sarawak’s Dayak culture, especially in terms of clothing, dance, and language.
“We were excited when the hotel staff told us about this event. So we cancelled our initial plan to visit other places today.
“We will proudly tell people that we’ve seen most of Sarawak’s indigenous culture and traditional attire side by side in full colour and splendour,” they said.
Meanwhile, for the first time, this year’s event also awarded four contingents RM10,000 each for best traditional dress and performance.
Raban N36 Layar Betong 2 won under the NGO/Iban association category, while Kampung Tematu’s recreation club and multi-purpose hall management were named the best for NGO/Bidayuh.
NGO/Orang Ulu category went to Kenyah National Association Sarawak (PKKS).
Gabungan Orang Asal Sarawak (GOASS) 1 emerged as the champion under the ministry/department/corporate/private sector/government-linked-companies category. — DayakDaily