Lun Bawang Festival is a tradition of the Lun Bawang, one of the ethnic groups that can be found in the central-northern region of Sarawak called Lawas. Lun Bawang are categorized in Sarawak as Orang Ulu; apart from Sarawak, this ethnic groups can be found in other locations of Borneo such as Brunei, Sabah and West Kalimantan, Indonesia. It is for this reason they tend to get different names: Lun Dayeh or Lun Daye, Lun Lod, Lun Baa’ or Lun Tana Luun.
During ancient times, this ethnic group practices traditional agriculture, and their animal husbandry includes rearing poultry, pigs and buffaloes. Lun Bawang people are also well respected hunters and fisherman.
This ethnic group is connected to the Lun Bawang Festival, also known as ‘Irau Aco Lun Bawang’, a festival that was traditionally a celebration of rice harvesting. Modern times have nevertheless modified the festival, and nowadays celebrations include a showcase of a variety of Lun Bawang culture and events.
Irau Aco Lun Bawang is held at Buduk Nur, Ba Kelalan, Lawas. According to Ipoi Datan, President of Sarawak Lun Bawang Association, the festival is an annual event celebrated by the Lun Bawang and conducted to gather family members and relatives. Ipoi Datan, who is also the Director of the Sarawak Museum, said the festival is held to introduce the Lun Bawang culture to the local community as well as abroad.
This event used to be held at Lawas Town; however, this year Ba Kelalan has been chosen to host such event as the place offers a rich culture and beautifully preserved flora and fauna, a special place for those who love adventure. Ba Kelalan is known for the production of green apples, rice, for its salt processing and cold weather. It is 180 kilometers from Lawas Town and can only be reached via air transportation, MasWing light planes or four wheels cars.
The 21 home-stays present at Buduk Nur cost around 70 Ringgit per night. Those adventurous enough to sleep in a tent can take advantage of the camping grounds, though you have to bring your own tent as well as sleeping bags since temperature in Ba Kelalan can drop considerably at night.
During the three days of the event there will be various activities including ‘Ruran Ulung’, or beauty pageant contest, ‘Nguip Suling’ or bamboo musical instrument band, handicraft exhibitions, a traditional food festivals, cultural nights, tours and sports. Several Lun Bawang from Brunei, Sabah and also Kalimantan are expected to join the festival.
Reading this article is a good start but it is not enough to be close to the Lun Bawang community, so please visit if you can. Pack your warm clothes and come to Lun Bawang land, where you can really feel the locals’ lifestyle. I highly guarantee that you will enjoy the trip and the tour.
To get there by land, first you have to get to Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah (Malaysian Borneo). After that, take the Kota Kinabalu to Lawas Town bus, which should get you there in about 3 hours. Once in Lawas Town, contract a four wheels car (the ride should cost you around 70 Ringgit per way). For those who prefer flying, MasWing airline (www.maswings.com.my/en) has regular flights there from Miri. For more information on transportation, you can call Miss Evelyn and Mr. Daud at (+60) 85262019. For more information on Lun Bawang people, browse http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lun_Bawang
Read Asian Itinerary news on the Lun Bawan annual beauty pageant and warrior contest on http://asianitinerary.com/lun-bawang-beauty-queen-and-headhunter-warrior/