Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Babulang Festival listed for the first time in Sarawak’s tourism calendar

SARAWAK’S Bisaya community put on a colourful display of their culture in a night of music, singing and dancing recently.

The performance, capped by a beauty contest, was the curtain-raiser for the Babulang Festival which the Bisaya have been celebrating since 2004.

The Bisaya is one of Sarawak’s minority ethnic groups, numbering some 10,000 people who mostly live in Limbang division.

Warm gesture: Bisaya girls wearing traditional costumes waiting to welcome invited guests at the entrance of the Kampung Batu Danau Hall.
The festival took place at Kampung Batu Danau, about 30km from Limbang town, on the second weekend of June.

Batu Danau state assemblyman Paulus Palu Gumbang, a Bisaya himself, said “babulang” was traditionally a feast given to redeem one’s honour if the person had done wrong.

“In the old days, he would invite the person he had done wrong to and as many friends as possible to the feast.

Rhythmic: Sabah Bisaya group performing on the Bisaya gongs.
“The feast could last for days and many buffaloes were slaughtered to feed the guests,” he said.

He said nowadays the practice was felt to be unnecessary as disputes could be settled in court.

“But we want to preserve the tradition of feasting and celebrating together, so we changed the concept to a feast that is shared and hosted by everyone,” he added.

This year, the festival took on an added significance as it was listed for the first time in Sarawak’s tourism calendar.

“I hope the Bisaya community will not waste this opportunity but will continue to improve the festival and attract bigger crowds in future.

Native beauties: Miss Babulang 2007 Marliza (centre) flanked by first runner-up Christina and second runner-up Jesseca (left).
“We believe we have a lot of cultural heritage that we can showcase, such as our traditional dishes and our traditional games, which we hope to include in future festivals,” Paulus said.

In addition, an 80-strong delegation from the Sabah United Bisaya Association, led by its president Datuk Lajim Okim, participated for the first time in the festival.

They included a cultural troupe, which put on several performances including a dance and a medley of tunes played on a traditional gong ensemble.

In the highlight of the evening, 21 Bisaya girls dressed in elegant traditional costumes paraded on the outdoor stage in the “Ratu Babulang” beauty contest.

They were judged not only on their looks and style, but also on the authenticity of their costumes, which were black, trimmed with colourful beads and sequins and adorned with silver belts and necklaces.

Marliza Masniz Martin, 22, from Kampung Tanjung, Limbang, was crowned “Ratu Babulang” in the pageant, winning RM300, a trophy and a hamper.

Christina Low Divid, 19, from Limbang and Jesseca Amy Linggi, 21, from Kampung Anak Tuno, Limbang, were first and second runners-up respectively.

Source : STAR
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