One of the many things Malaysia prides itself on is its diverse melting pot of cultures. On the same note, you probably won’t find any other country that gives out more holidays than Malaysia does. But even with all the cultural festivities we Malaysians get to celebrate, there’s quite a number of them that we don’t give enough shine to.
For those of you don’t know, Hari Gawai is upon us today! In the spirit of celebration, these Sarawakian musicians and art practitioners came together to make a video of them singing Liling – also known as ‘the unofficial Orang Ulu anthem’.
Check it out:
If you’re unfamiliar with Hari Gawai, it is a celebration held by the people of the Dayak community in Sarawak that takes place annually on the 1st of June to give thanks for a bountiful harvest as well as a time to plan for future prospects. The song Liling in the video above was traditionally sung by Dayak communities in longhouses across Sarawak in celebration of Hari Gawai.
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, many Hari Gawai events and festivities were unfortunately cancelled this year. That being said, no pandemic could break the spirit of the Dayak people from celebrating this meaningful day as proven by Kuching-born sape musician, Alena Murang, who hatched a plan to bring “semangat” Gawai to Dayak communities wherever they may be.
According to The Star, Alena believes that “Semangat is an inner fire, from within an individual’s soul, multiplied when we come together as a community, [which] is what we need right now to keep going”. Alena performed a rearranged version of Liling with the help of producer/guitarist Joshua Maran and had the video shot from individual homes of those present in the video.
Additionally, this video performance features prominent Sarawakian and Dayak artistes performing in their own mother tongue, showcasing nine languages found throughout Sarawak, (five of which are listed as “threatened” or “endangered”). The huge roster of talents featured in the video is as follows:
Dayang Nurfaizah, Zee Avi, Arabyrd, Jolly Jengan, Sasha Ningkan, Alex TBH, sape legend Mathew Ngau Jau, storyteller Adrian Jo Milang and poet Kulleh Grasi.
JUICE wishes a Happy Hari Gawai to all Dayak people (in and out of Sarawak)!
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