Selamat Hari Gawai to all my friends. You know who you are!
It must really fun and laugh in Sarawak. Everyone is enjoying the beautiful day with family and friends.
It is time for Kumang Gawai.
Let’s have a quick history lesson. Kumang is the most popular and most frequently recounted female in Iban folklore. Kumang is also called Jawai and Sedinang. Kumang is the daughter of Beddang (father) and Sinjung (mother ). She had two brothers, namely Tutung Ulup Demung Bujang Lemandau Gendang and Rembuyan Aka Terikan Tali Ripang, and two sisters namely, Indang Mendung Kupak Kundung Tembang Embawang and Kelinah Ditelah Indai Abang. She is the consort of Keling Gerasi Nading Bujang Berani Kempang, Jelingau ke Betugau Mayuh Rambang, Keling Aji ke Bebini Rangka Tunang. She lived in Gelong Batu Nakung Nyinyit Nyingung Nunjang Nerabang.
She is an ideal woman, having characteristic and attributes of a truly happy, fulfilled, liberated, and extra ordinary. She is bright, talented, and full of wisdom, knowledgeable, full of energy, perfect housekeeper, prefect cook, perfect mother and perfect wife. She is a role model to her peers, and all things to all people. She is a woman of virtue and courteousness.
She was also a master of seamstress and weaver. Possessing such expertise and skills, Kumang was always consulted by fellow women in GElong and other surrounding territories for advice over weaving and basketry matters.
The highlight of Gawai celebration is the traditional Kumang Gawai competition. It is a local traditional beauty pageant competition searching for a girl that is not only beautiful, brilliant, kind and with an image of perfect woman. She also should have a deep understanding about their custom and tradition. This competition is very different from modern beauty pageant where the contestants parade in evening gown or posing in two piece bikini. Contestant in Ratu Kumang Gawai will only parade in their traditional costume.
The first modern Kumang Gawai in Sarawak is Puan Senorita Linang. She was crowned for three consecutive years that is in 1966, 1967 and 1969. She is also represent Sarawak in Miss Malaysia Float Queen 1967 and was placed 2nd runner up after Miss Kedah and Miss Penang.
Puan Senorita Linang really proud about Dayak culture. You can ask her anything about Dayak traditional customs and believe me, you’ll get the answer!
I met her and at 64 she is still beautiful. Her hair is nicely do and her fresh mani and pedi. The way she talk and walk is really like a queen. She said being a Kumang Gawai the girl not only beautiful but she needs to know everything especially about traditional costume. According to Puan Senorita, joining Kumang Gawai is not only filling in the form but also the mental challenge because you’re representing the whole tribe.
She is currently a Manager and pioneer staff, Dayak Cultural Foundation Resources Centre. Her responsibilities are to preserve, revive and promote the authenticity of traditional music and dances of the three communities namely, Iban, Bidayuh and Orang Ulu communities.
She is also the person behind Ratu Kumang Gawai in Sarawak. As one of the judges for the Kumang Gawai Dayak Beauty Pageant. Being the judge, it requires experiences and knowledge in the traditional costumes and must be able to make the right judgment in deciding who should be the winners. Well I have no doubt she has all that.
Truly a Queen.
As the saying goes, once a queen, always a queen.
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