West Kalimantan is the western of Borneo and has an area of 146,807km2 and offers a whole range of landscapes from the low plains, swamps and mangroves as well as a hilly and mountainous area. All of these areas are linked by over 100 rivers which are still used extensively to this day for transport around the landscapes which are important for communications, the economy and are great for tourism as they make a novel and culturally connected way to get around and see the sights. The people of West Kalimantan are mainly the native Dayak people who you will find living in long houses with their families all around the province as well as in the other areas of Borneo. You will also find a number of great villages which are still very much traditional and as well as the great lakes which are incredibly scenic areas. The capital of the province of West Kalimantan is Pontianak which will find located right on the Equator and is a city developing very quickly in three main areas known which are located around the Kapuas and Landak Rivers. You will also find the main entrance to the province here in the form of the Supadio Airport.
The Kapuas River is the longest river in all of Indonesia stretching for 1143km linking Pontianak to Sanggau as well as the Sintang and Kapuas Hulu Regencies. Tourism in West Kalimantan is still a reasonably low percentage of their economy although this is beginning to change and you will now find a number of delightful 3 star resorts, hotels and villa setups located around the Pontianak area as well as along the coastlines and in some of the more scenic areas offering perfect escape locations for a tropical break. This will appeal greatly to anyone who is interested in tropical and equatorial weather as well as the incredible wildlife and culture of the area which is still very much alive in the whole area.
GAWAI IS THE RITUAL FEAST
THAT HOLD ANNUALLY IN WEST BORNEO
Gawai Dayak, a festive celebrated in West Borneo on May to June every year is both a religious and social occasion. Dayak would visit their friends and relatives on this day. Such visit is more known as "ngabang" in Iban language. The far would receive greeting cards.
To the Dayak, Gawai Dayak would be a recognition of the Dayak race, their source of national pride and a way to reciprocate social hospitality extended by the other races during their festivals.
The word Gawai means a ritual or festival whereas Dayak is a collective name for the natives races in West Borneo; the Iban, Bidayuh, Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Murut and a few more. Thus Gawai Dayak literally means the Dayak Ritual Feast.
The mode of celebrations varies from place to place, from kampong to kampong or from district to district. Preparation starts very early. Tuak (rice wine) are brewed and traditional delicacies like penganan (cakes from rice flour, sugar and coconut milk) prepared. As the big day approaches, everyone will be busy with the general cleaning and preparing the food or cakes. On Gawai eve, glutinous rice are roasted in bamboo (lemang). In the longhouse, new mats will be laid out on the ruai (an open gallery which runs through the entire length of the longhouse). The walls of most bilik (rooms) and the ruai are decorated with pua kumbu (traditional blanket).
The celebration starts on the evening. In most Iban's longhouse, it starts with a ceremony called Muai Antu Rua (to cast away the spirit of greediness), signifying the noninterference of the spirit of bad luck in the celebration. Two children or men each dragging a chapan or winnowing basket will pass each family room. Every family will throw some unwanted article into the basket. The unwanted articles will be tossed to the ground from the end of the longhouse for the spirit of bad luck.
Around 6 pm, miring (offering ceremony) will take place. Before the ceremony, gendang rayah (ritual music) is performed. The feast chief thanks the gods for the good harvest, ask for guidance, blessings and long life as he sacrifices a cockerel. Dinner will then be served at the ruai. While waiting for midnight, the folks gather and mingle at the ruai and berandau (talk/converse). Meanwhile, drinks, traditional cakes and delicacies are served.
At midnight, the gong is sounded. The tuai rumah will lead everyone to drink the Ai Pengayu (normally tuak for long life) and at the same time wishing each other "gayu-guru, gerai-nyamai" (long life, health and prosperity). A procession up and down the ruai called Ngalu Petara (Welcoming the Spirits) will follow. The celebration by now will get more merrier. Some will dance to the traditional music played. Others will sing the pantun (poems). In the town, the Dayak will gather at the community centers or restaurants for a enliven the evening.
Other activities that may follow the next day include cock-fighting, demonstration of blowpipe skills and ngajat competitions. On this day, 1st June, the homes of the Dayaks will be opened to visitors. In the longhouses, there is a practises called masu pengabang where guests will be served with tuak by the host before they can enter the longhouse. Dayaks will attend a church mass to thanks God for the good harvest. Gawai Dayak celebration may last for several days. Visitors are most welcome to the homes of the Dayaks during the festival.
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