Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Salute Maize at Pesta Jagung

The Malaysian state, Sabah is largely agrarian in nature.  In fact, agriculture forms the backbone of the Sabah economy and the state’s agriculture sector features the cultivation of crops like rice, hill rice, maize along with allied agrarian activities like goat-rearing, mushroom-growing, bee-farming, wild orchid and exotic fruit growing.

As a result, Sabah celebrates various harvest festivals during the year like Gawai Dayak(the rice harvest festival) and the month-long Tadau Ka'amatan, celebrated during the month of May. Pesta Jagung, is one such harvest festival celebrated by the Kadazandusun communities of Kota Marudu in early November each year.

Kota Marudu is a town located in northern Sabah, easily accessible via a two-hour drive from the state’s capital Kota Kinabalu. The native Kadazandusun people who depend largely on agriculture for their livelihood, inhabit this region and maize or jagung is one of the primary crops that they cultivate. The Pesta Jagung (Maize Festival) is usually celebrated in early November every year and seeks to highlight the significance of the crop to the Kadazandusun people. Much like how maize cultivation is of vital importance to the people of India’s Punjab state.

The Pesta Jagung festival at Kota Marudu features various interesting exhibitions and activities like the Maize Lantern and Cultural Parade, jagung cooking, eating and planting competitions, handicraft and cultural shows and even a Jagung Fashion Queen contest.

So if you find yourself in the vicinity of Kota Kinabalu anytime soon, do drive out to Kota Marudu and see how the native Kadazandusun folk celebrate and honor, the humble jagung or the much-loved ‘bhuta’ as we Indians know it.

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