Stay put at home during Gawai, longhouse folk advised

File Photo: A Kedap family having their meal at their common gallery ‘ruai’ during Gawai Dayak.

KUCHING: With the Covid-19 situation in Sarawak still a concern, longhouse folk residing in urban areas should not return to their rural villages during the approaching Gawai celebration.

In saying this, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Women chief Datuk Seri Doris Brodie said under the current circumstances, it was better to stay put at home rather than move around.

“The less we travel or expose ourselves, the better we can control the spread of this virus. Besides, most districts and divisions now are under strict movement control order and anyone caught breaching the order may be fined,” she said when contacted.

Doris urged Dayaks to celebrate Gawai with those in their households, adding that celebrants could also still keep in touch with relatives and loved ones via phone calls, video calls and other social media platforms.

“Prohibit non-longhouse dwellers including family members from visiting or returning to your longhouse during this coming Gawai festival,” she advised.

She said merrymaking should not be overwhelming as it might be challenging to observe social distancing, especially when people were too engrossed and happily celebrating the festival.

“Perhaps low-key merrymaking can be done but confined to individual ruai or bilik. In short, the celebration during the pandemic should be very much confined to family members of each household,” said Doris.

“While the longhouse lifestyle is very much a cluster concept, we can still adhere to the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) by refraining from gathering in numbers and close proximity as well as practising social distancing and good hygiene,” she added.

Doris said this included no sharing of glasses and eating utensils during meals and merrymaking and washing hands with soap and water.

She was of the view that miring ceremonies could still be carried out during the Gawai festival by adhering strictly to the SOP such as social distancing and good hygiene.

She said the Gawai festival could be celebrated grandly in the years to come with visiting among each other once the Covid-19 pandemic was curbed.

Doris, who is also a political secretary to the chief minister, believed that the Gawai celebration this year would be quite similar to last year – low-key and confined.

“Currently, the Covid-19 curve is quite steep. Hence, I call upon all longhouse folk to be cautious and vigilant against the spread of this pandemic,” she said.

She stressed that the battle against Covid-19 was not over yet and it required everyone to approach it with discipline and a new norm.