From padi field to knowledge farm
Thursday April 2, 2009
By SHARON LING
SARAWAK’S Bidayuh community put on a colourful showcase of their culture and traditions in the inaugural Pesta Birumuh (Farming Festival) in Serian, near Kuching, recently.
The festival kicked off with the preliminary rounds of the Battle of the Bands and Bidayuh Idol singing contest and sports.
It culminated in a three-day gala at the Serian Mini Stadium which included the grand opening ceremony on March 21.
According to organising chairman Datuk Wilson Baya Dandot, birumuh means farming in Bidayuh and is usually associated with planting rice.
However, as the Bidayuhs achieved progress and modernisation over the years, it also came to mean gaining education and knowledge, he said.
This was reflected in the festival’s theme, “From the Padi Field to the Knowledge Farm”.
At the opening ceremony, visitors received a ceremonial welcome by Bidayuh folk in traditional attire while musicians played gongs, drums and other instruments.
The highlight was a multi-ethnic parade featuring Bidayuh communities from different districts as well as other communities marching around the stadium.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, who launched the festival, said it should be held annually and included in the state’s tourism calendar.
In his speech, he noted that the Bidayuh community had come a long way since Sarawak achieved independence in 1963.
He said the Bidayuhs not only had a high number of graduates but were also making a mark in public service.
“This is despite the fact that they constitute only 8% of the state’s population,” he added.
In conjunction with the festival, awards were presented to outstanding Bidayuh personalities, including former state legislative assembly Speaker Datuk Jacob Robert Ridu, former assistant minister Temenggung Datuk Michael Ben and Olympic diver Pandalela Rinong.
The festival also featured an exhibition of Bidayuh handicraft and artifacts, cooking demonstrations of Bidayuh delicacies, folk games and cultural performances