Culture & Religion

See the Moon Princess and more at Sarawak’s World Harvest Festival 2016

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Sarawak Cultural Village
Sarawak Cultural Village, Kuching

The harvest festival, or Gawai as it is traditionally known, marks the culmination of month long harvest celebrations. During Gawai, the indigenous Dayaks celebrate with friends and family as they make amends from the year gone by and hope for a better year ahead.

The World Harvest Festival is a grand scale celebration of this Dayak harvest festival, which was introduced to promote cultural tourism in East Malaysia. It is now in its 18th year and has become a major event in Sarawak. Attracting a multitude of visitors each year, the festival is an avenue for non-Dayaks to learn about the culture and traditions of the Dayak community.

The festival held at the Sarawak Cultural Village (SCV) in Kuching involves several key events such as the Ironman World Harvest Festival, Miss Cultural Harvest Festival beauty pageant, a theme play, and a kitchen and craft festival which showcases the traditional food and crafts of Sarawak’s indigenous tribes.

The Moon Princess

The theme play has become a highlight of the entire festival. Every year, the play revolves around a specific theme and troupes use natural props like the lake, ethnic houses and tree to tell tales borne out of tribal legends and beliefs. The result is a unique performance that cannot be reproduced elsewhere.

Iban dancers performing traditional dance
Iban dancers performing traditional dance

This year’s theme is Orang Ulu, an indigenous tribe, and the play will be based on the Kelabit legend of Dayang Bulan, the Moon Princess. Adapted and written by Datin Nikki Lugun from the original story by Tingang Trang of Bario, the play will be choreographed by Othman Hassan and performed by artists from the Sekolah Seni Sarawak and SCV’s own performers.

Traditional Sapeh music

Orang Ulu tribesman playing an electric Sape
Orang Ulu tribesman playing an electric Sapeh

Another event to look forward to, especially for sapeh enthusiast, is the sapeh concert, which will feature Sarawakian sapeh players as well as players from Brunei, France, Indonesia, and West Malaysia. Sapeh is a traditional lute of the Orang Ulu that is made out of a single piece of wood and is usually decorated with tribal artwork. The instruments can sometimes reach up to a metre long, and there are even modern electric sapehs now.

Event schedule

The entire festival is planned out to ensure that you’ll have fun all day. The craft bazaar will be on from 9am to 8pm on all three days, and there will be a total of six cultural concerts spread over the weekend. You’ll also be able to enjoy both the Ironman challenge and grand finale show of the Miss Cultural Harvest beauty pageant.

Check out the full schedule below:

World Harvest Festival schedule

Ticket information

Tickets are available at the SCV’s ticket counter and cost RM60 for adults and RM30 for children aged 6 to 12 years old. If you have any inquiries, you can call the SCV at 6082 846 108 or email them at [email protected].


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