COVID: One-day Gawai celebration in Sarawak – JPBN


KUCHING – The annual Gawai Day, a thanksgiving day to mark a bountiful rice harvest, which will be celebrated by the Dayak community in Sarawak on June 1, is limited to a one-day celebration only, and visiting activities are strictly prohibited.

The State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN), in a statement today, said due to the current situation of COVID-19, and with the permission of the Chief Minister’s Department’s Unit for Other Religions (Unifor), this year’s celebration will only be allowed among members of the same household or roommates, or only in their respective family rooms if celebrated in a longhouse.

‘Miring’ (a ritual offering to ancestors, gods and spirits), which is usually held during the festival, will only be allowed to be performed in areas placed under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

This ceremony can only be held at a designated ‘ruai” (gallery), set by the Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK), with a maximum attendance of 20 people including those conducting the ceremony. However, this activity is prohibited in areas placed under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO).

“Other activities that are not allowed are returning to the village by crossing zones; wedding, engagement and thanksgiving ceremonies; ritual bathing children in the river; cockfighting; telematch and other social activities,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, for the Wesak Day celebration on May 26, all temples in Sarawak are allowed to operate for one hour, from 8 am to 9 am, with the presence of only temple committee members and Sangha (monks, nuns and devotees) with a maximum attendance of 20 people.

“However, for the Kuching zone, which includes parts of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian, temples are allowed to operate for four hours, between 8 am to 2 pm, with a maximum attendance of 50 people for temples that can accommodate up to 1,000 people, with up to 20 people for temples that can accommodate less than 1,000 people,” it said.

However, the ritual bathing of Buddha statues is disallowed and each temple must comply with the standard operating procedure (SOP) set, among others, to provide at least two People’s Volunteer Corps (RELA) personnel to monitor SOP compliance in the temple.

Temples located in EMCO areas in the state are disallowed to operate during the festival.