Harvest Festival / Pesta Keamatan


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The Harvest Festival celebrated in Sabah and Labuan on the 30th and 31st of May every year is widely known as Pesta Ka’amatan. This festival is closely connected to rice cultivation as rice is the main crop in Sabah.

Pesta Ka’amatan marks the end of the planting cycle; hence, a time for harvest. Farmers and families take this opportunity to give thanks to the spirits and gods for providing them with a fruitful reap and pray that the gods will bless them with bountiful harvest the following year. In short, Pesta Ka’amatan is a localized thanksgiving celebration. While Thanksgiving is celebrated over roasted turkey in America, the Sabahans celebrate this occasion over rice wine which is locally known as tapai.

Besides being the main source of food, rice is considered sacred as it is believed that that is where the spirit of Huminodun embodies. Huminodun was the only daughter of Kinoingan, the Almighty Creator, who was sacrificed by her own father to ensure that his people will not starve during the long season of drought. Her body parts were buried all over the ground and out of the soil grew paddy (rice). Ever since, people honor Kinoingan’s sacrificial deed by conducting various ceremonies like Magavau and Humabot during this festival.


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