Kampong Raso 2 in Lundu district, Kuching, Sarawak will be having their Paddy Festival, called Gawea Sowa starting at around nine in the evening today the 13th June 2013. It is actually a Thanksgiving for normally a good harvest or a good year.
History had it, that it was first done to welcome the first Bidayuh Priestess, a very sick Bidayuh woman, in a semi-comatose condition, who was taken up there somewhere to be initiated by Sinok Bowang. In this village women were dying of a mytersious disease which made the women died at any age until those in the other world pity the people reasoning if let unattended the race would become extinct. Thus it was decided that this woman when left by her husband outside the house one blue day, that she would be taken and became the first lady to be initiated up above. Next morning her husband found out that she was nowhere to be found till a year after when he was planting his Paddy field.
Meanwhile Sino Saya was taken up above and was given the initiation rituals where she was married to her spiritual husband in the ceremony. During her prohibition period she was confined to the house and was told by Sumuk Bowang, not to look down a jar, while some say the toilet. Anyway curiosity finally got the better of her one day, so she looked down against the instruction. Then she saw her husband planting Paddy field alone.
Planting the Paddy in a hill Paddy cultivation is a process where the men normally poke a hole into the ground in front in a specific distance, while the women normally following behind placed the Paddy seeds into the hole. It is called. NULUK, in Bidayuh. Normally it is a joyous one day affair when the villagers would be doing a communal work based on a system called PINGIRIS, where a day work will be paid in a day work on the next farm until all the farms in the area is done. Sex or age does not matter as long one day is [paid by a day doing the work they can do, which either poking the hole, NULUK, or placing the seeds into the hole, MINIEK.
But Samak Saya was doing his all alone at that time. He was doing both jobs, NULUK and MINIEK. Thus he poked the holes and after that is done then he would go back and placed the seeds into all the holes he had made all by himself. His wife pitied him and cried all day till evening. When Sumuk Bowang came home from her farm she saw Sinok Saya in distress and her eyes were swollen with tears. Then she knew that she had looked down but asked her away. She admitted that she did looked down and saw her husband planting Paddy all alone in the farm.
So she was told that she can go down to help him next day. In sending her down all types ropes and materials were used but all could not hold….always broken. Eventually the bamboo skin which was used to cook the glutinuous rice for the the initiation ceremony was used … it held and Sinok Saya was sent down using that as the string…. this is why till to-day this bamboo is used for the small offering plate called TAYA.
Anyway the story goes that on that day, while the man poke the holes she was putting the Paddy seeds into the holes just poked. Thus when the time came for the man to put in the seeds he saw that all the holes were seeded.He must have scratched his head and wondered. Despite that there was no one around the seeds were placed in the holes all morning. Then lunch time he wondered and asked himself who was doing the job…..
Then after lunch he has to sharpened the end on his poking Stick,called TULUK, but fortunately or unfortunately he did it as usual on the stump of the tree that he had felled during the felling season. As soon as he was about to sharpen the end of his TULUK, the sound of “RENGRENG……” similar to the bells and coins attached to the present uniform used by all the priestesses. He scratched his head and wondered and crying in despair. Up appeared his wife who immediately consoled and told him what had happened.
She then told his husband that at the end of her prohibition period of a year she can come down to him but he must get ready all the things he needed for the welcome ceremony …. the Gawea Sowa.
Thus Gawea Sowa could be more than just a celebration of thanksgiving but it is also the time when the blessings from above could be obtained….on the third night you can observed what would be send down from above during the NGUGOH ceremony which will be held at Kampong Raso 2 at around 3-4 am of the 16th June, Sunday.
I will see you there if you can come… i will be the Assistant Priest this time around… next celebration next year onwards, i will be the Priesthood level already. Happy days ahead for of you.