Gawai Dayak comes from the words Gawai meaning festival and Dayak, a collective name for the indigenous peoples of Sarawak, especially Iban and Bidayuh. It is an annual celebration and held on the 1st of June. It is recognised as both a religious and a social occasion since 1957.
There are special rules that need to be followed to ensure harmony and peace during the festival. For the Ibans, it’s called ‘begeliga’.
They eat various traditional food such as Manuk Pansuh and it is a popular traditional food amongst the Ibans. Chicken will be diced and inserted into bamboo stalk before being burned with woodfire. Manuk Pansuh is usually served to the guests during Gawai Dayak.
Men wear ngepan which includes a loincloth (sirat or cawat), animal skin coat (gagong), peacock and hornbill feathers (lelanjang) headwear, chains over the neck (marik), silver armlets and anklets along with a shield, sword and spear.
Women wear a hand-woven cloth (kain betating) worn around the waist, a rattan and brass ring high corset around the upper body, selampai (a long piece of scalp) worn over the shoulders, a woven bead chain over the neck and shoulders (marik empang), a decorated high-comb (sugu tinggi) over the hair lump (sanggul), a silver belt (lampit), armlet, anklet and orb fruit purse.