2018 saw the first time a Gawai cultural parade was held in the heart of Kuching ever since the 90s. Niti Daun is commonly performed in Iban longhouses or villages before Gawai.
It was an amazing display of indigenous cultural identity, despite the heat. The day began with clear blue skies and despite a temporary shower, the streets were warm and humid. The parade was scheduled to begin at 3PM but got pushed to 4.30PM when the Chief Minister had to turn back and retrieve his costume. It began with a miring ceremony by Iban elders before the participants departed.
The main procession walked about 1 KM from Tun Jugah Mall to the main stage opposite the Old Courthouse. About 90 contingents walked the length, made up of a diverse range of cultural, ethnic and civil societies and associations, proudly displaying their costumes and dances.
The tourists and onlookers were excited as well, standing by to catching a glimpse of all the different styles of traditional costumes. It provided a glimpse at the full range and variety of most of Sarawak’s indigenous culture and traditional attire side by side in full color and splendor. I hope they continue this tradition again next year, and perhaps, start on time.