Rungus to celebrate Magahau Fesival
Sabah will be seeing the best yet of the Rungus community, having recently been recognised as a full ethnicity, as it also marks the beginning of an annual State-level celebraion, the Magahau Fesival.
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will be seeing the best yet of the Rungus community, having recently been recognised as a full ethnicity, as it also marks the beginning of an annual State-level celebration, the Magahau Festival.
To be launched on June 13 by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Masidi Manjun, and close with a big bang on July 27 with the Papak Tavasi Magahau, the festival in the form of the Magahau month, is the brainchild of the Sabah Momogun Rungus Association (SAMORA).
“The Magahau Festival will be the biggest celebration for the Rungus community in Sabah, following the State government’s recognition of the community as a full ethnicity,” said SAMORA president Dato’ Jelani Hamdan at a press conference here yesterday.
Magahau, said Jelani, is similar to ‘thanksgiving’ or ‘celebration’ in the Rungus language, and is all the Rungus’ celebrations and festivals summed up together.
“It’s the mother of all Rungus celebrations,” he said.
After being launched on June 13 at Kampung Timpangol in Matunggong, Kudat, various Rungus oriented activities will be held throughout the Magahau month, which will then culminate with the grand Papak Tavasi Magahau, at the Uluvan Square in Pekan Matunggong, on July 27.
Among the contents of the month-long celebration is the ‘Gimpuhut’, the Rungus’ equivalent of the Kadazandusun Murut’s Unduk Ngadau, but something more, with judging points which will include not only beauty and brain, but also traditional knowledge and skills.
Contestants of the Gimpuhut competition will be required to undergo a week training, learning how to weave traditional Rungus tapestry, as well as learn the Mongondi, after all of which they will be required to perform as part of the competition.
“We want to ensure that every content of the programme will in some way benefit the Rungus community and enhance the knowledge and skills of our traditions among the younger generation,” said Jelani.
There will also be a Rungus singing competition which will be divided into two categories, one encouraging modern mixes in Rungus language songs, and the other promoting traditional Rungus songs, Mongondi.
“The first category will require contestants to compose Rungus language songs with a touch of contemperary materials. Rungus songs are barely known so we want to promote them by giving these songs modern touches.
“On the other hand, Mongondi is a skill not known to many Rungus which even the current Rungus generation does not understand as it uses age-old Rungus language which the ‘bobolians’ (native high priestesses) use,” explained Jelani.
Magahau will also see the showcase of Rungus traditional costumes through a fashion design competition which will require contestants to create designs based on their creativity to infuse traditional Rungus motives into their designs. It will culminate with a gala night showcasing the creative designs.
Folks will also be able to witness Rungus traditional sports as contestants of the ‘Hontira’ competition race through obstacles using traditional tools, dressed in traditional Rungus outfits.
The Magahau Festival, said Jelani, had been acknowledged by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment to be part of the annual Sabah Tourism calendar of events.
“Magahau is normally celebrated by the Rungus as a thanksgiving, not necessarily on a fixed date or month, like May for example. It is also a ‘pantang’ (prohibited) to have a Magahau celebration in a time where there is a disaster among the Rungus.
“Some will ask why not postpone the event in view of the recent national tragedy in Sabah, and I would like to clarify that we are not going ahead with the event out of disrespect but it had been planned more than four months ago and we have planned to scale down the opening of the event, as well as include a tribute to the victims of the earthquake by launching a disaster fund.”
Rungus was recently one of the four sub-ethnic groups of the Kadazandusun Murut ethnic group including Tatana, Lundayeh, to be recognised by the State government through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, as a full ethnicity.
According to Jelani, there are currently 150,000 to 200,000 Rungus in Sabah, 20,000 of them in Kota Kinabalu alone.
Local Rungus singers such as Ronn, Rody, Frankie, Lynn, Vince, Lenz, Alexmon, Robbie, Mar, Ferady, Donny and many more, will be performing on the Magahau stage, where famous Sabahan national singer, Stacy, will also be performing a Rungus song dressed in Rungus traditional costume.
“I admit that very little is known about Rungus. Now that we have been recognised as a full ethnicity, we will step up efforts to promote our beloved culture and traditions,” said Jelani.
He added that although it will kick off on June 13 to July 27 this year, SAMORA will work on fixing the event from July 1 to July 31 in the coming years.
“This is because number seven is special to the Rungus,” he said.
Jelani showing the Magahau Festival’s promotional poster at the press conference yesterday.