Universiti Malaysia Sabah students (from left) Choo Li Lian, Kylye Koh, Ng Chew Hong and Soh Chia Xi showing their interest s in the attire worn by Kampung Bahagia elder Lidiana Rusi Ahutu.
|Kampung Bahagi village head Asok Angkaus leading a group of community leaders and residents in a dance.|
Among the activities organised were a beauty pageant, exhibitions by private and government organisations, traditional sports, food tasting and song and dance performances.
Bright red loin-clothed men wearing vests made from tree bark, women in black costumes with sparkling beads, joined by community and state leaders wearing tall woven hats, added colour to the two-day event at the Murut Cultural Centre.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok closed the festival on Sunday while a day earlier, state Culture, Environment and Tourism Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun represented Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the opening ceremony.
Despite a downpour on the first day, many visitors, especially those who could trace their roots to here and neighbouring Nabawan, Sook and Sipitang, joined the festival.
Although held for the seventh consecutive year to showcase the community’s unique culture and tradition, the event failed to attract many foreign tourists.
Some have blamed a lack of promotion and, to a certain extent, its timing, as the cause.
Masidi said there were some foreign tourists but the number could be better.
“We need to ensure it does not clash with other events. Another option is to tie it with other celebrations.”
For a group of university students from Selangor, the festival was an eye opener, especially on the Murut people’s colourful attire.
“I have read and watched documentary about the Murut people but this is my first meeting with them face to face,” said Choo Li Lian, a first-year Universiti Malaysia Sabah student.
Choo was with friends Kylye Koh, Ng Chew Hong and So Chia Xi, each busy taking notes on the unique designs incorporated into the attire worn by Murut women.
At the closing ceremony, the highlight was a mock tinauh event, supposedly the grand feast for any celebration.
Central to this was a wedding tinauh by more than 80 community leaders from Nabawan and Kemabong.