Hari Gawai

History| Preperation |Celebration


LonghouseGawai Dayak also called Gawai Day is a Sarawakian festival which is celebrated every year on 1 June. Gawai means festival and Dayak is a collective name for Sarawak different ethnics. The celebration is conducted in longhouses (a long structure where family residences are accessed from a continuous public hallway) in countryside. The birth date of this glorious festival goes back to 1957 which was held by Mr. Ian Kingsley. In this festival several events such as harvest time, New Year, religious ritual and family gathering are celebrated all together. The people who are too far would receive greeting cards.


PreparationPreparation for the festival begins sometime before the due date. They make Tuak (rice wine),Broak (homemade liquor), Penganan (cakes from rice flour), steamed glutinous rice in bamboo and more foods and drinks before the festival gets started. People also clean their house and festival area in preparedness for the festival. During this festival they also think about their dead so they go to the graveyard to clean the place and grant their offerings to the dead.


Celebration Celebration begins on the evening of 31 May. Guests will be served by Tuak upon arrival. The first step is to cast away the spirit of greed by a ceremony called Muai Antu Rua. Two children or men carrying a winnowing basket will pass each family’s room in the longhouse and each family throws unwanted articles into the basket. Those articles are then tossed to the ground from the end of the longhouse for the spirit of bad luck. Around the sunset time the ceremony begins with playing ritual music. People thank god for good harvest leading by Feast Chief and ask for God blessing, then they sacrifice a cockerel. After this ceremony dinner is served. Around midnight a procession is conducted to welcome the spirit of gods called Ngala Petara and afterwards people begin to drink and dance. The ceremony may last for several days and there are some competitions like cockfighting or blowpipe matches.Some places you can visit during the Gawai Dayak festival are the Skrang River, the Lemanak River, Battang Ai and Annah Rais.


Back to top