Sarawak, submerged in various traditions and influence of world religions, proudly swanks its rich cultural heritage and celebrates several events and festivals throughout the year. Along with known festivals like Chinese New Year, Christmas, Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, and National day, the indigenous fetes, including Pesta Kaul, Gawai Dayak, and Rainforest World Music Festival, show off the culture of Sarawak, are widely celebrated in this land of hornbills.
Pesta Kaul (simply Kaul) is celebrated by the Melanau community living in the coastal areas in Mukah during March or early April each year. The festival includes various rituals to appease and thank the spiritual powers of the sea, land, forest, and farm to keep them safe through the monsoon season. The festival is also considered a custom of cleansing.
This festival symbolises rice harvest in Sarawak. It is celebrated throughout the state during May end and onwards. On Gawai Eve, glutinous rice is steamed in bamboo as a unique and spiritual menu. People place new mats on the open gallery of longhouses- ruai and adorn the walls with traditional blankets - Pua Kumbu. People visit the graveyard and service offerings to the dead.
Sarawak's largest Dayak tribe, lbans, are most fond of the 'Gawai Kenyalang', a hornbill ceremony. Earlier, the ceremony used to celebrate the headhunting raids for which the Iban were legendary. Today, as headhunting is officially banned, the Gawai Kenyalang celebrations symbolise the rice harvest.
Gawai Antu festival celebrates the most fabulous Sea Dayak feast in honour of those who are dead. And so, the festival is significant for every Sea Dayak. Those who fail to celebrate it by negligence are not considered loyal to the religious duties of marking the graveyard with sungkup.
Rainforest World Music Festival
This is a well-known festival that attracts music lovers from all over the country and the world. The festival is celebrated for three days in August every year at Sarawak's Cultural Village in Kuching. It brings together various music artists from all over the world under one roof.