Selamat Gawai Dayak or Selamat Gawai?

Professor Dr Jayum Jawan

This Content Is Only For Subscribers

Please subscribe to unlock this content. Enter your email address and full name to get access. It's FREE!
Your email address is 100% safe from spam!

KUCHING, June 30: When greeting another fellow Dayak, it is enough to say “Selamat Gawai” while in print, the greetings should be written as “Selamat Gawai Dayak”.

This is according to Professor of Political Science, Universiti Putra Malaysia Datuk Prof Dr Jayum Jawan who is a fellow member of Academy of Sciences Malaysia.

“Technically, (Minister in Premier’s Department Datuk John) Sikie (Tayai) is right in regards to when someone, a Dayak or others, extend wishes verbally to another Dayak as ‘Selamat Gawai’. 

“The word or term ‘Dayak’ at the end does not need to be said or added as it would still be understood. This is because you do not utter such a greeting to a Malay or Chinese individual. It has to be about Gawai that a Dayak is celebrating. 

“But in greeting cards and advertisements, it would only be complete to write ‘Selamat Hari Gawai Dayak’ because Gawai is a general term denoting a celebration.  

“Adding the term ‘Dayak’ refers to a specific celebration, a harvest celebration or festival hosted by a Dayak,” said Dr Jayum in a statement.

Jayum was responding to Sikie, who has been reported to have said it is acceptable to remove the term “Dayak” from the greetings “Selamat Gawai Dayak”.  

Sikie’s statement has generated debate and discourse within the Dayak community.

To Jayum, Sikie was incorrect when he used the example of “Selamat Hari Raya” to substantiate the latter’s view that the greetings were expected to be extended to a Malay individual and thus unnecessary to add the word Malay after the greeting.

“Here is where he is not quite correct. Selamat Hari Raya is not for the Malays, but for the Muslims all over the world. 

“In Malaysia it takes that form and properly it should have been ‘Eid Mubarak’. ‘Selamat Hari Raya’ is the Malay or Malaysian version of a Muslim wishing fellow Muslims ‘Eid Mubarak’.

“The use of term must also be seen in its convention which Sikie presumably did not consider when he compares the use of Selamat Gawai Dayak to other forms of greetings for other communities and celebrations,” said Jayum.

He held that “Gawai Dayak” is a proper noun and removing the word “Dayak” from the term takes away the specific meaning. 

“A Christmas is a ‘gawai’ and so too are birthdays and anniversaries. Certain celebrations are specific although they may not have the noun to identify them. 

“For example, the Spring Festival or the Hungry Ghost Festival are Chinese and even though it does not have Chinese in the term. That is by convention and usage that dates back to time immemorial,” said Jayum.

He believed that a Dayak should be careful to make pronouncement regarding things Dayak which have some elements of cultural value. 

“A minister or person in position cannot simply utter statement that can invite discord. 

“It is utterly irresponsible and can be seen as an attempt to seek a cheap publicity. Worst still is when one wrongly uses one’s authority to undermine one’s own cultural value that has long being established,” said Jayum.

He said such such pronouncement should be left to the elder or tuai adat who are more authoritative on the matter and should do so.  — DayakDaily