Guide to Kaamatan



The word Kaamatan is derived from the root word tomot, a Kadazandusun term for “harvest”. Kaamatan refers to the paddy-harvesting period, which involves a series of traditional rituals culminating finally with the Magavau and commemorative Moginakan Kaamatan (Harvest) Festival, in honor of Huminodun, the sacrificed Ponompuan — Daughter of Kinoingan (God).

The Kaamatan Festival is an annual event in the cultural life of the Kadazandusuns of Sabah. In its deepest sense, the Kaamatan Festival manifests the relationships of the Creator Gods and their creations, intra and inter creator beings, and intra and inter creations’ relationships. It is about Kinoingan’s (God’s) love; the beauty of His creations; the emergence of sin and the curse of hell, and the conception of sacrificial love for the realization of salvation. It embodies the principal acts of invocation of divinities, appeasing, purification and restoration, socio-spiritual re-union, sharing of harvests/blessings and thanksgiving to the Source of All. It is part of a complex wholesome Momolian religious system centered on the paddy rites of passage and the life cycle of Bambarayon – the in-dwelling spirit of paddy.

The Kaamatan Festival is thus celebrated to commemorate the “Greatest Love of all”, in that: “the Creator Couple (Kinoingan & Sumundu) so loved the Kadayans and their world that they sacrificed their only Daughter Ponompuan (Huminodun) in order to save them from annihilation due severe drought and famine due to sinfulness and Godlessness.” Source: An excerpt from “The Essence of the Kaamatan (Harvest) Festival” by Dr. (H) Benedict Topin, Head of Research & Documentation, Kadazandusun Cultural Association


Bobolian Odu Miada Gumarong shared that Kaamatan has seven rites namely:

  1. • Mamayayat/Mogkodim Pouli Bambarayon (Inviting the rice spirit home)
  2. • Magahau (Magavau), Mongondut/Mongombos (Humabot) om Modsoluhut do Bambarayon (Futher   homing calls for the Bambarayon followed by search and rescue missions)
  3. • Mamabas (Appeasing)
  4. • Momodsu (Cleansing or purification)
  5. • Monoguli (Restoration)
  6. • Monumad (Feeding)
  7. • Moginakan Kopiobpinaian om Karayahan doid Kinoingan (Feast of reunion and thanksgiving to God)



One of Sabah’s premier events is the Sabah Fest, a prelude to the statewide Kaamatan Harvest Festival held annually on the 30th and 31st May at KDCA Cultural Unity Centre (Hongkod Koisaan), Penampang. Kaamatan is an important celebration for the Kadazandusun people as it signifies a period of rest from the harvesting season and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest. During the festivities, Kaamatan celebrants will feast according to their needs, and are forbidden to glut and waste any served offerings.

The festival offers various gastronomic delights which are sure to tickle your taste buds. Visitors to Kaamatan may look forward to feasting on unique Kadazandusun delicacies such as a variety of rice wines, Tapai (fermented rice wine), and Lihing (distilled rice wine), and various jungle delights, Sinalau Bakas (smoked wild boar meat), Tuhau (wild ginger) and Bambangan (wild mangoes). If you’re well-versed with the smell and taste of ‘Noonsom’ (fermented food), please do indulge yourselves. When you hear too often the words, ‘Aramai Ti’ (lit: ‘Aramai’ – many, merry or fun, depending on context, and ‘Ti’ – this), brace yourselves for a very good time at the Kaamatan grounds.

Join and experience the Kaamatan hospitality this May 2016 and be sure to attempt visits to all 11 traditional houses (you could get stuck longer at one or two), and sample the ethnic delicacies. You could even get a personalized tour of the traditional houses, a package arranged by the KDCA Youth Council which entitles you to an in-depth cultural exchange and awareness of the ethnic tribe.

For those far from home, come home for Kaamatan! Or else, by tradition say the following Kadazandusun text to ward off misfortune: to the sagang (kitchen trivet) say – ‘Topun sagang, Opuunan noi sagang, Ko’opuunan zou po!” (translation: I have touched the trivet, may the trivet take the curse rather than me)



Kaamatan International Hospitality Team (KDCA Youth Council) and Faculty of Hotel & Tourism Management, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Sabah.

Join us for a personalized 30-45 minute tour available from the 28th to 31st May 2016 at KDCA grounds. With the assistance of trained student guides from UiTM Sabah, tour participants will be guided to 11 traditional houses for a deeper cultural experience of the Kadazandusun ethnic tribes in Sabah. With a minimal charge, this exclusive tour will include the following:

  • A dedicated Tour Guide to 11 Traditional Houses
  • A Guide Map
  • Discount coupons (F&B and Crafts) for selected Traditional Houses.
  • Complementary drinks and ‘pusas’ (snacks) at selected Traditional Houses. For enquiries, please contact Student Coordinator, Nabila at +6016-9532614 or email us at: for group bookings.

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Joanne Lee

Chief Eater Extraordinaire of Sabaheats
I cook, I eat and I always looking for good food!


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