Gawea SOWA – Grogo

This morning the last act, BILAMAK, of 2013 of the yearly festival for the village is over at about 5.30 this morning. During we were linked hands to hands and we moved around the main Altar to the rhythm and beat of the gongs eight times and as well around the group of older Priestesses who could not moved due to old age. In this act anyone who like to enjoy themselves linking hands and move around the Altar is welcome to do so. It is a goodbye act for the celebrants and guests saying that we will are going home and see you next year. We finished just about 5.45 . Then i rest and slept only to wake up ready to empty our baskets of offering to shared amongst all the eight families involved in the Gawea and eight helpers for the event including one High Priest, Asen Pa Segut, from Kampong Duyoh, two Assistant Priests,one from Kampong Serikin and the other from Kampong Raso 2 in Lundu District, One Priestess, Sino Boiek, from Duyoh one Assistant Priestess from Serikin and two helpers from Serikin. With the eight volunteering to help, the event was completed in the spirit of love and joy amongst the celebrants. Thus the event was done with only good omens in sight for the future.
The youngest Priestess of Kampong Duyuh and Sino Globat of Grogo on the right. Both were not well enough to do the Gawea this time.

Gawea Sowa is done to complete the season of Paddy Planting for the village. Since Malaysia was formed, Kampong Grogo makes it a tradition not to miss the Gawea Sowa. It is also a fixed event for 30th May to 1st June each year. Yet it goes on unnoticed by many people including the village population itself. No one seems to care to know that without the warriors, who are called to come back and celebrate with their great, great grandchildren, there will be no Sarawak or Malaysia as it is to-day.

After the burning of the Bung Baratak in the Eighteen century, the survivors of the massacre and pillage of Bung Bratak by the combined forces of the Sultan of Brunei then regrouped at various safer places. Bung Orad was a place of choice of Babai KULOW, the only warrior of Bidayuh origin recognized by the Third Rajah of Sarawak, Charles Vyner Brooke. Unfortunately even his name on the memorial of Vyner Brooke at the Kuching old High Court Building, has being erased by irresponsible Government directive? Kuching is the Capital of Sarawak since the First Rajah, Sir James Brooke, was installed. on the 23rdSeptember 1841. Their reign continued till they ceded Sarawak to the British Colonial Office in 1st July 1946. Of course, Malaysia was formed later in September 16th 1963.

Gawea Sowa at Grogo began as a tradition some time after 1963, mostly in 1964. This year they almost could not continue for number of reasons. However they did and it was more joyful as many of the new generation came out and not only enjoyed themselves but donated money and drinks. They even volunteered to beat the gongs at ode hours such as three in the morning. It is the first time more come out to support. They make the remaining Priests and Priestesses happier – a treasure many from the village do not realize yet.

Gawea Sowa should NOT be imitated as a new culture unless the Christians who want it to be performed at their village want calamity to befall themselves and the community. It is forbidden to call upon your ancestors to come without proper code and rituals. Two villages which tried it had eight and seventeen people died after the event because not only the ancestors but also the devils who came were unhappy. The first village made all the rituals including the offering Altar, BAWAL, but not offerings done. So their “unseen guests” went home hungry and of course angry…..eight of the village resident died one after the other until “they were satisfied”. The other village a proper ceremony was done by their remaining Elders of Priests and Priestesses of the area but it was just for show to welcome one VIP and the platform upon which the “show” was performed was demolished before the prohibition period was over, 17 people died under mysterious reasons. The eleven or twelfth victim was the wife of a friend of mine who died near the place their ancestors did their Head Ceremony when a sago tree her husband was cutting fell in a “wrong” direction to n apparently safe place where she stood. Without any wind or creeper pulling the sago tree to her direction, it fell in that direction anyway and it killed her.

But we did complete our ceremony at Kampong Grogo this year and if proper rituals are observed in the village, only good tidings and blessings would be enjoyed by all the residents of Kampong Grogo.

Happy Gawea Season. I will be helping Raso 2 village to celebrate their Gawea Sowa starting the 13 June and will finish on the morning of the 16th. See you all there.

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