KUCHING: This year will see Sarawakians delighting in a double festivity involving Gawai Dayak on June 1 and Aidilfitri, which is expected to fall on June 5.

Sarawakians of Dayak origin as well as those from the Muslim community will take advantage of the long public holidays to return to their home towns to celebrate the joyous occasions with their families and friends.

Kuching-based marketing officer Emerlda Sibut said every year she will celebrate Gawai Dayak at the Margaret Jara Manggut longhouse, in Machan, Kanowit.

Like many Sarawakians going back to their hometown to celebrate the festival, she has to endure a seven-hour drive on the Pan Borneo Highway to her longhouse.

“It is a month of joyful celebration where we prepare lots of things from brewing of the rice wine, namely ‘tuak’ to preparing traditional cuisine and sweet treats like ‘chuan’, ‘sarang semut’ and ‘penyaram’ by the women folks”, she told Bernama here.

Emerlda said starting from June 30, there will be a ‘berancau tikai’, a tradition of stretching out of mats made of screwpine (mengkuang) leaves along the longhouse’s verandah known as ‘ruai’ and in the evening all family members will gather to have dinner and listen to speeches from the ‘Tuai Rumah’, the longhouse headman, in conjunction with the Gawai Dayak celebration.

Meanwhile, 24-year-old corporate affairs officer Martino Unjan Mohammadin said the journey to his hometown, Nanga Lassa, Sibu will took more than six hours from Kuching where he is working.

“Being able to celebrate Gawai Dayak at the longhouse is special because you can’t easily have the chance to get that joyful festive experience in the city,” he said.

Meanwhile, Muslim Sarawakians will also be making meticulous but moderate preparations for their Aidilfitri celebration here.

A mother of seven, Aminah Mondoi, 55, from Kampung Mang, Kota Samarahan said the Aidilfitri celebration in the village is full of merriment with lots of community functions being held a week before and after Raya.

She said there will be a ‘belangey’, a big potluck event held on the 27th day of Ramadan at the mosque where villagers gather for breaking of fast and this occasion would be repeated after Aidilfitri.

“Another way we celebrate Aidilfitri in this village is organising a football match, where everyone can participate despite their age, in any team and this annual event is the only day where they can celebrate Aidilfitri like no other places in Kota Samarahan”, she said.

Meanwhile Sultan Idris Education University (UPSI) student Nur Suraya Abdul Razak, 22, said Sarawakian students in all higher institutions in the country felt grateful that the state government had provided the flight subsidy, which greatly eased their financial burden.

“The subsidy is such a relief because now many more university students can be reunited with their family at this year’s Aidilfitri celebration”, she said. — Bernama