Sowing bonds during Pesta Nuruk Padi
While Gawai Dayak is one of Sarawak’s better known Dayak festivals marking the end of a bountiful harvest, a festival celebrated by the Bidayuh community before then is known as ‘Pesta Nuruk Padi’.
According to Nosia Abo, 37, from Kampung Bogag in Bau, ‘nuruk’ in Bidayuh means to poke holes into the ground and place paddy seeds into them.
“It is a tradition that has existed in the Bidayuh community for hundreds of years. The festival is a joyous one-day affair with the villagers gather together performing communal work, that is planting the paddy,” she said when met by The Borneo Post SEEDS at her farm at Kampung Bogag in Bau on October 17.
“The paddy planting starts after the clearing and burning of the land. After that, the land need to be tidied up before the farm owner can decide the date for the planting, which usually takes two months after the cleaning up process has been completed.
“After that, we will poke holes in the ground and put in paddy seeds to be planted,” she said, adding that not many of the younger generation today know the hill paddy planting process.
Norsiah added that it usually takes a day for the paddy seed to sprout, depending on weather conditions at the farm.
“If it rains, the seeds that have been planted will be poking from the ground tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. But, if it does not rain, it will probably take about five days for it to appear. They also need to be fertilised at least once a month for to grow healthy,” she said, adding that it took about six months for the paddy to mature.
The festival is usually held in September or October and is known as the paddy planting month for the Bidayuh community in Bau.
“For my 3.8 acre farm, it can take up to approximately 50 kilograms of hill paddy seeds.
“Usually, if the weather condition permits, we can finish up to 3 farms for the one-day festival,” she added.
Some 100 members of the Bidayuh community from Jagoi, Singai, Padawan, and Bau participated in the festival. Several Iban, Chinese and Malays also joined in.
“Such significant communal activity allows the Bidayuh community to come together to participate in a tradition that has been around for hundreds of years.
“It is a symbol of working relationship for the Bidayuh community from various areas and it is good to see that this activity also helps to instil the awareness on the importance of such communal gathering for everyone,” said organiser of the event, DBNA Serapi chairman Henry Harry Jinep.
Participants were treated to a feast of food after the planting of paddy.
There were also presentations of souvenirs to those who had attended the event, including SPDP Tasik Biru chairman Michael Siten, DBNA Kuching Tengah Branch vice chairman Jack Oduin, lawyer William Ding from William Ding & Co (Advocates & Solicitors), and Pertubuhan Kebudayaan dan Perpaduan Kuching (PKPK) president William Jinep.