Ibans working far from home giving Gawai a miss this year

Ibans working far from home giving Gawai a miss this year

SIBU: Pictures of tuak (rice wine), ngajat (a dance) video clips and Iban songs have started to emerge on the Facebook pages of many Iban people, a clear indication that the harvest season has ended and the community is preparing to mark Hari Gawai on June 1.

Usually, many of those working and living far away from home would return to their longhouses to be with family, relatives and friends to celebrate the Sarawakian festival, but with Covid-19 still a problem and a movement restriction still in place, most Ibans have decided not to go back.

On May 10, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, announced an interstate travel ban for Hari Raya (May 24 – 25), the Kaamatan festival (May 30 – 31) and Gawai festival (June 1 – 2) due to Covid-19.

Emily Sangan Empaling and her husband, Nick Apoi, who are working in Kalabakan, Sabah have also decided not to go back to their longhouse in Sungai Mador, Bintangor for Gawai.“I really want to go back as it has been a while since I saw my family and relatives.What to do? It is better to be safe than not,” she said, adding that not going back has created a deep hole in her heart.

“Friends and relatives have been teasing me, telling me not to cry this Gawai. I probably will. I guess I can go back another time when things are a lot better,” she said. — Bernama

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