~ The Spirit of the Rice By Kiva Witha
She embodied the total beauty of the heart, mind and body. She was beautiful, obedient, and graceful, she had everything- she was the total epitome of an ideal Kadazandusun woman.
As famine drew nearer with the absence of seeds, she knew she had to sacrifice herself to feed her people. So the only daughter of Kinoingan and Suminundu, blessed the people with the ultimate sacrifice of self, sown all over her father’s land- her people enjoyed an abundance of food with coconuts, rice paddy, red rice, ginger, maize, yam and edible plants. They never grew hungry again.
In honour of her sacrifice, a feast filled with customary practices was erected by Kinoingan to appreciate the gift of abundance. It celebrates the homecoming of Huminodun (also knows an Bambazon) to the Tangkob( large rice container), restores the lost Bambazon during harvest and rice processing period throughout the Magavau ritual and finalises the feast with offerings of special food like rice wine, fermented rice and eggs, not to forget merry making that completes the festival. During the festival, Kinoingan longed to see his child, so he started playing his bamboo flute, to his astonishment; she appeared out of the Tangkob.
Huminodun is believed to visit her people every year during the Kaamatan. Her absolute trust of her father is favourably looked on as a sacred act at the festival. Legend has it that the binding love of her father is a symbolic response to the creation of Unduk Ngadau Beauty Pageant.
The Origin of Sabah’s Unduk Ngadau
“Unduk” basically signifies youth and progressiveness, while “Ngadau”, means the noon sun. Unduk Ngadau basically reflects the total beauty of the heart, mind and body – all that Huminodun embodies.
Each year, districts throughout Sabah send their very own Huminodun’s of this generation to compete for the final state-level pageant on the 31st of May at KDCA.
A title that carries a lot of honour in Sabah
Beauties from various natives like the Lotud, Rungus, Bisaya, Dayeh, Murut and Tagal who best resembles the ascribed personality of Huminodun are chosen to represent their district.
Winning the Queen of Harvest title, it is no easy feat.
Unlike Western pageants worldwide, these beauties are judged on a whole different level altogether. Besides showing off their costume’s intricacies, they are required not only to fluently speak their native tongue, but exhibit self in total embodiment of heart, mind and body.
Significant cultural meanings for self and community
The title of Queen Harvest carries significant cultural meanings for self and community. Carrying the Queen Harvest title, she serves as a role model for her peers and community. From vital cultural elements of costume intricacies, songs and dance, the Unduk Ngadau is most certainly the main highlight of the Kaamatan Festival.
If you would like to experience a beauty pageant, like no other, come on down to the KDCA, Penampang on the 31st May and awaken your five senses.
From food & drink, native dances and songs to local handicraft, you will be able to get a taste of Sabah’s identity. Not forgetting the chance of a lifetime, to be in awe of the beauty that embodies the Huminodun spirit.
It will give you a whole new perspective on beauty pageants, I guarantee you that.
Video of Queen of Harvest of 2011 finalist
DID YOU KNOW?
Unduk Ngadau comes from the ethnic word Runduk Tadau which means girl crowned by sunlight.
Typically held in Sabah , starting 1999 KDCA begun to celebrate Kaamatan in Klang Valley to allow for Sabahans there an opportunity to be a part of the harvest festival , despite being far from home.
There is a male version of the Unduk Ngadau held in Klang Valley Mr.Harvest or Mr. Kaamatan that sends delegates to the competition held in Kota Kinabalu since 2007/2008
Unduk Ngadau contest started as Miss Kadazan contest in the 1960s
Getting to the KDCA
A taxi ride will take around 15-20 minutes from KK town or you can opt to take a bus from KK to Penampang. From KK, the KDCA building is located on your right. You can even plan your trip with a local tour agency to witness this extraordinary event that will help you further with your cultural experience.
Post written by: Kiva Witha
Backed with an immense love for everything Sabah-from the people she was so kindly introduced to during her undergrad days, to the environment, culture and food – Kiva Witha aspires to explore every inch of Sabah – Connect with her via twitter at @mimarsehomespa or email her at [email protected].