KUCHING: Although celebration for the coming Gawai Dayak this year will only be allowed on the first day, members of the public especially celebrants agree that this is important to bring down the number of Covid-19 cases.
Last Friday, the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) announced the celebration of the harvest festival will only be for one day on June 1.
The celebration is limited to family members in the same household while those in longhouses can only celebrate with their immediate families within their own bilik.
New Sarawak Tribune spoke to celebrants who are of the opinion that the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for Gawai will help reduce movement — especially ngabang (visiting) activities.
However, they also felt sad and disappointed that they could not go back to their villages or longhouses to celebrate, but are grateful to be able celebrate with their close families at home.
Priscilla Tassy Binit, Student
If the community complies with the guidelines, there will be a reduction in the number of Covid-19 cases. It still makes me sad that we are unable to celebrate as a big family in a longhouse but this is for everyone’s safety.
Leonhardson Elon, Student
Although it’s only one day, it is important in the fight against Covid-19 and to avoid the emergence of new clusters. One day is enough to spend time with close family and celebrate moderately. It is gloomy this year with the ongoing pandemic and there is no ngabang.
Veronica Tera Riben, Sales assistant
It is the right move from SDMC and people still need to be careful and vigilant of Covid-19. With rising cases, it is better to stay at home celebrating Gawai with close family rather than going out. For me, it’s no different celebrating the festival than last year.
Evanes Ngadan, Service team member
It is disappointing to celebrate Gawai for only one day as I cannot go back to my longhouse and celebrate with my relatives. Still, I do agree that we, as a community, need to cooperate and play our part in reducing the spread of Covid-19. I am grateful to celebrate with my close family even though there is no ngabang.
Jerome Bennet, Health worker
It is frustrating knowing that Gawai this year can only be celebrated for one day. Though, it does not mean we should lose the spirit of celebrating the festival as it is our culture and we should celebrate it with close family at this trying time. We also should be grateful that we still can celebrate Gawai.
Diana Eddie, Housewife
The government made the right call in allowing Gawai to be celebrated for only one day. It is for the health and the safety of the people which is always a priority. Whether we like it or not, we have to accept it, but be grateful that we Dayaks can still celebrate the festival with close family.
Jesica Lena Mathew Ngilah, Student
Celebrating Gawai for one day is going to be short but for me, it is good enough. We still need to follow the SOPs and be careful. It is pretty disappointing because it is different this year, but being close to family is what matters the most.