State-level Gawai starts in steep Bijagoi tradition

BAU: Gawea Sowa Bijagoi is an annual ritual of the Bidayuh Jagoi-Bratak sub-group to appease the padi spirit ‘Simongi Podi’.

Kampung Jagoi Duyoh association chairman Mehedi Noyew said the ritual is performed by the priests (Pinyigar & Pinguguoh) and priestess (Dayung Bolih). They will be assisted by several others as they go through the dance known as ‘Nyigar’ and sing mystical songs called ‘Ayun Bolih’.

Old folk surround Bawal (small house) as it also a part of offering.

“This particular festival has been in practice for as long as one bothers to remember, and for me, I know my grandfather practised it.

“He is 73 now, and he says his great-great grandfathers also practised it. So, you can imagine how long the tradition has been with us,” he told reporters after performing on the second day of ritual at the riverbank of Kampung Jagoi Duyoh yesterday.

Tasik Biru Assemblyman Datuk Henry Harry Jinep (right) pose for a photograph with Dayung Borih (women who conduct the ritual ceremony) after officiating the Bau District Gawai Dayak at Kampung Duyoh, Bau. Photos: Mohd Alif Noni

Gawea Sowa Bijagoi is part of the state-level Gawai Dayak celebration which Tasik Biru assemblyman Datuk Henry Harry Jinep officiated at yesterday.

The ceremony is carried out for three days from May 30 to June 1, with offerings placed at a designated area.

The highlight of the celebration will be the Gawai Dinner Night on June 15 at Imperial Hotel with the Head of State Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg in attendance.

Dayung Borih sit under the bamboo shade having a rest before proceeding to a ritual known as Ngilaga (an offering to appreciate the spirit of paddy).
The kids enjoy playing the gong – a traditional music instrument of Bidayuh.