The colorful multi-day event, celebrated by the Dayak people is a cultural, social and religious celebration, which honors the indigenous people and the tribes.
The Gawai Dayak festival is an annual festival and thanksgiving time to mark a bountiful harvest, and is an integral part of Dayak social life. It is celebrated by the Dayak indigenous people (collective name) across the island of Borneo, Malaysia and Indonesia during the 31 May to 1 June. It has become a symbol of unity, aspiration and hope for the Dayak community.
Celebrations of Gawai Dayak vary from place to place and preparations may begin early. In Sarawak (a Malaysian state on Borneo) it is a pubic holiday and celebration in Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, begins a week prior to Gawai Dayak. There are parades, games, feasting, music, cock fighting, cultural activities, demonstrations and even a beauty pageant.
Throughout the festival tribe-members makes ‘Miring’ or ceremonial offerings to the god and celebrate with music, dancing and plenty of rice wine known as Tuak. Although steeped in headhunting traditions of the past, the only head removed these days during Gawai Dayak belongs to a chicken, sacrificed to honor a successful rice harvest.