The last two days in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, from August 7 to 8, 2010:
A wedding invitation
Imelda, her family and I had our last dinner together. We talked about how I missed my Malaysia Airline (MAS) flight from Tawau to Kota Kinabalu, just because of getting wrong information from Isabella, Imelda’s work in Beaufort, Isabella’s hectic days in Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Uncle Paul’s works in church and Joshua’s plan to come back home for good. Suddenly, Uncle Paul said he had received a wedding invitation a week ago. He and Imelda’s mother were invited to the wedding reception at Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Center in Penampang. The reception would start at 12 pm and finish by 6 pm. Since I never saw a Kadazan reception, Imelda asked me whether I was interested to go there.
“Dency, would you like to see the wedding reception?”
“Of course I want to. I want to know and see how they conduct the reception in the traditional Kadazan way.”
“Hahaha, they will drag you out to dance the Sumazau. Believe me.”
“Aiks. You are so excited to know about that. I know you like to dance traditional dances. I saw you danced when we were in the first year undergraduate study. It would be nice to end up your trip by dancing the Sumazau. Then, it will be a complete journey for you in Sabah. Plus, now you know how to drive in KK (Kota Kinabalu) Town. In the future, you can drive around KK without my helps.”
“Yeah, agree with you. Thanks a lot, Mel.”
“No problem. Don’t forget to buy a small souvenir for me in the USA.”
“I will. No problem for that.”
Brenda, Imelda’s cousin, interrupted our conversation. She, with her pity face, asked me to buy a small gift for her also. Imelda and I laughed at her act, and I promised to fulfil her wish.
The Sumazau dance
The morning service at St. Catherine Catholic Church, Inanam ended at 10.30 am. Imelda, Brenda, their auntie, one of their cousin and I, went to the Terminal that is 20 minutes drive from the church. We would like to eat the best San Yuk in Inanam. After satisfying our stomachs with the dark ketchup kolo mien and pork soup, we sent Imelda’s auntie to her house. Then, we made a journey to the KDCA Center using the new road that is behind of Imelda’s kampong. The journey took around 35 minutes to reach the KDCA Center, which is located along the Penampang-Kota Kinabalu road. I was sleeping along the way, and only woke up once we arrived there. I saw a large building and other small buildings next to it. There was a signboard showing the name for each building. The biggest building is the ‘Hongkod Koisaan’ or the Unity Hall, while the rests are an open stage and an office for Unduk Ngadau (Miss Kadazan) Committee Board. The wedding reception would be held in the Unity Hall. The time was almost 12.30 pm. Four of us hurried to the front of the Hongkod Koisaan. There, a group of ladies in black and gold Kadazan traditional attire waited at the front door. After Imelda had signed the guests’ book, we were ushered into the hall by a beautiful, young sumandak (lady in Kadazan).
The hall was decorated with black and gold balloons. Even, the stage was decorated with black and gold ribbons. It was a great wedding theme. All of us sat on a row of chairs on the left side of the stage. While we were waiting for the groom and bride entering into the hall, I asked Imelda about the newlywed couples. Imelda explained that the groom is her brother’s friend. He is a Sino-Kadazan with his father is a Chinese, while his mother is a Kadazan. The bride is a pure Kadazan lady. In addition, by watching a slide video show in a big slide, we found out that the couples have been together for eight years, and they got married a week ago. While watching the slide show, a group of gong players hit their gongs, playing the Kadazan welcoming song.
Suddenly, a woman approached all of us. She asked whether we wanted to try the Sumazau dance. Imelda declined her offer, and instead she asked me to dance. I did not want to dance alone. Imelda asked Brenda, and her other cousin to join me to dance. The lady gave a cloth sash for each of us. Then, she brought us to the middle of the hall and met with other male dancers. I noticed that the male dancers wore sashes made from wood reels. Before we started dancing, we were thought how to dance by a group of old dancers. Male and female dancers faced each other. The dancers moved their feet in small movements and spontaneously moved their heels up and down to the beat of the music. While dancing, they spread up their hands and moved it up and down just like birds spreading their wings to fly. A big difference between the movements of male and female dancers was the male dancers bent their elbows, while female dancers just bent their cuffs.
After they had danced for around five minutes, we were asked to make two lines, one line for men and the other for women. I was partnered with a Chinese man from Malaya, while Brenda with an Indian man also from Malaya. When the gong players hit their gongs, we started to dance following the old dancers. I faced my male partner. Since, he was not used to dance, I led him. He just followed my movements. I giggled at him as he told me to wait for him. We danced less than five minutes. Once we were done, we greeted and said kotohuadan (thank you in Kadazan) to our partners.
Black and gold
Next, a music band played a Kadazan romantic song. After that, a Master of Ceremony announced the arrival of the bride and groom and their family members. Parents from both sides entered into the hall and followed by their children, in laws and great grandchildren. All of them wore the traditional Kadazan attire. Then, the bride and groom entered into the hall. Like others, they wore their traditional costumes. The bride hair was coiled and decorated with beautiful, sparkling hair accessories. Her husband wore a nice, black Kadazan long sleeve coat that embroidered with gold trimmings. Both of them walked and smiled to all guests. Then, they sat together with their family on round tables that were placed opposite of the stage.
An old bobohizan (a Kadazan priestess) asked the couples to the stage and sat on a mat. The bobohizan prepared a bowl of chicken legs soup, a bowl of rice and two glasses of tapai (Kadazan rice wine). First, she blessed the couples and, then the food. After blessing, she told the groom to feed his wife, and the wife also had to feed him well. Both of them have to finish all the food. Then, the bobohizan served them tapai. They drank with their elbow crossed, the man would bring the small glass to his wife’s mouth and his wife did the same thing. The blessing ceremony would end with the Sumazau dance from the two newlywed couples. They danced with joy as two birds flying in the sky. It was a wonderful day for the groom and the bride and also to everybody in the hall. What about me? I felt happy because I have successfully completed my trip in Sabah and celebrated it with dancing the Sumazau- the dance of happy birds.