Bintulu is relatively calmed today on the first day of Gawai Dayak festival. The long holidays prompted the exodus of “balik rumah panjai” mood among Bintuluans, bringing along their family members to savour the Gawai festival.

Unusually calm. On the first day of Gawai Day, the streets were unusually calmed with fewer traffic. Shops were seen operating as usual.

Driving around town today make you feels like you’re are in an Indonesian town. The long holidays enable them to take time off from work. Many of them seen congregating at as shopping complexes such as Centerpoint, Pasar Besar and ParkCity Mall.

Pacarku. Irwan took the opportunity of the long holidays to bring his ‘pacar’ Effy on a date at Tanjung Batu.

“Today is a holiday, so we took the opportunity to visit Tanjung Batu beach,” said Irwan when met at Tanjung Batu – apparently on a date with girlfriend Effy today. Both of them have been working as production operator at Manuply Plywood in Kemena Industrial zone (legally) since 2006. They admitted to like it here.

Migrant workers – who are mostly from Indonesia took time off from work congregating at shopping complexes, recreational parks around Bintulu.

Gawai Day or Gawai Dayak, a festival celebrated in Sarawak on 1 June every year is both a religious and social occasion. The word Gawai means a ritual or festival whereas Dayak is a collective name for the natives of Sarawak which include, the Ibans, Bidayuhs, Punan, Kayan, Kenyah, Kelabit, Lun Bawang and others.

Gawai Dayak was formally gazetted on 25 September 1964 as a public holiday in place of Sarawak Day. It was first celebrated on 1st June 1965 and became a symbol of unity, aspiration and hope for the Dayak community.

Shopping. An Indonesian couple took time off went shopping around town today.

Today, it is an integral part of Dayak social life. It is a thanksgiving day marking good harvest and a time to plan for the new farming season or activities ahead.