The Fascinating Gawai Dayak Week 2016 Cultural Festival in Pontianak

13 May 2016

Throwing the spotlight on the diverse cultures of the indigenous Dayak ethnic groups living in the jungles of Borneo, the festive 31st. Gawai Dayak Week 2016 will be held in Pontianak, capital city of West Kalimantan from 20th to 27th May 2016, centered at the Rumah Radakng traditional Dayak longhouse at jalan Sutan Syahrir Street in Pontianak.

As in previous years, the event will put on stage their authentic traditional rituals and ceremonies, there will be a colorful cultural parade around the city, and traditional games and skills competitions, among which the traditional skill in   hunting with blowpipes, here called  Sumpit,  traditional top spinning (pangkak gasing) , tattoo painting , wood carving, traditional shield painting , bead weaving competition, and a whole lot more. As a special treat this year, the festival will also feature a unique an exciting competition of pig catching. To make it even more challenging, the pigs will be smeared in oil so as to make them slippery and even harder to catch.

The festival will also feature a display traditional handicraft and culinary presentations, art performances, a Fashion Show of traditional Dayak costumes and trending fashion using Dayak cloths, traditional dances, traditional Dayak song competition, and of course the  Bujang Dara Gawai beauty pageant.    

Aside from being participated by the Dayak ethnic groups of West Kalimantan themselves and from surrounding areas, also present will be Dayak communities from Sarawak, Sabah, and Kinabalu (Malaysia), as well as from the kingdom of Brunei Darussalam.

The Gawai Dayak tradition began as a harvest ceremony of Dayak indigenous groups around Pontianak West Kalimantan that has been part of their tradition for many decades. The Gawai Dayak traditional festival was  usually performed over a period of three months, especially by the Dayak Iban and Dayak Darat, as expression of gratitude for a bountiful harvest. Over the years, adjustments were made to Gawai Dayak, however, the traditional ceremony still maintains its key elements. Working with the local government the Gawai Dayak is now held over one week only, instead of three months and is now known as Pekan Gawai Dayak or the Gawai Dayak Week.

Since 1986, Pekan Gawai Dayak has been staged and funded by the local government. The event has proven to have a positive impact in sustaining the Dayak spirit, traditions and bond among the different clans, at the same time, expanding Dayak culture across West Kalimantan. It has, moreover, encouraged the preservation of the Dayak culture as an effective media to promote tourism to West Kalimantan.

Make sure to be there to witness this unique and fascinating folk Festival. Direct flights to Pontianak are available from Singapore, and of course from Jakarta and other major cities in Indonesia.



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