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.
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.
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.
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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