KOTA KINABALU: Defending one’s own culture is not a symptom of narrow-mindedness, but of a desire to guarantee that future generations do not lose sight of their own identities.
Dayak International Organisation (DIO) President Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said for the Kadazandusun people, the Kaamatan Festival is one of the fundamental foundations of the community because it commemorates the spirit of Bambazon, the centre of Kadazandusun spirituality.
“In understanding culture, we must place customs above all, and these customs must be made the foundation of the justice system for the community to assure the success of building a harmonious society,” he said.
Kitingan made the remark as he concluded the Webinar on Unduk Ngadau: Tradisi dan Amalan Budaya Masyarakat Kadazandusun, which was held in conjunction with the World Indigenous Peoples Day today.
He stated that the panellists demonstrated how a community’s customs and culture were moulded by the belief system, myths, and the various roles played by the men and women of the community.
“All these traditions are deeply rooted in the lives of each member of the community and will continue to affect their behaviours and perspectives on life even if they have embraced other belief systems or religions,” he said.
In terms of gender equality, Kitingan said the Unduk Ngadau should be viewed as what it truly is: a tribute to the spirit of Huminodun, not as something to be exploited or subjected to sexism.
He emphasised that in the past, women had key responsibilities in caring for the spiritual and physical well-being of the Kadazandusun community.
“The Unduk Ngadau is intended to depict women as symbols of beauty and intelligence. A clearer perception of this competition is critical in elevating women’s dignity in the community,” he said.
He congratulated the webinar’s organisers and the panellists and hoped that more programmes aimed at understanding indigenous peoples and their practices, beliefs, and cultures will be organised in the future.