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Huminodun – the virtuous ‘goddess’ that begets Kaamatan, Unduk Ngadau
Published on: Sunday, June 09, 2024
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Inanam Unduk Ngadau finalists Marshya and Debny posing with stalks of paddy harvests in traditional baskets.
IS there a community and culture worth dying for? Is there an iconic figure of indomitable character embedded in maybe just well documented mythology worth extolling? 

The answer is yes, based on the famous Kadazan folk tale around legendary goddess Huminodun who was resolute and responsive to plights, as symbolised by the Unduk Ngadau winner at the annual Kaamatan beauty pageant.    

Recognising its cultural significance, Alumni La Salle & Sacred Heart made it a point to ensure the presence of two Inanam District second runner-up Unduk Ngadau – Marshya Dewy Lo and Debny Mayly Danny, at its historic Kaamatan festival at La Salle School on June 1.     

Live a life aligning with the greater good and needs of other humans, community, nations or even the world – a deeper purpose beyond oneself. Huminodun was the only daughter of supposed “creators” of all things – Kinoingan and wife Suminundu.    

The mythological narratives was that Huminodun had a rabble rouser brother who caused havoc and turmoil on earth which resulted in a great famine with people dying from mass starvation.

Stricken by remorse, mother Suminundu decided to do the unthinkable – sacrifice her daughter Huminodun to reverse the plight, and surprisingly, Huminodun agreed to it!

From mass famine to miraculous abundance 

Said and done, Huminodun’s body parts became a diversity of foods – her flesh and blood became rice, her head became coconuts, her fingers bananas, her teeth and hair became maize, her toes ginger, her skeleton sugar canes, her heart and intestines fruits of all types, her ears turned all types of vegetables and by the time she breathed her last, her soul became the rice spirit bambarayon which resides in rice stalks.  

Sounds weird but remember this is folklore documented in “Kaamatan 101 – An Introduction to the History and Culture of Harvest Festival in The Land Below the Wind”, by Joanna Kitingan, Pairin’s younger sister and former Director of State Museum and Archives.   

‘Voice’ from slashed rice stalks to a grief-stricken father

All that happened behind the back of father Kinoingan who upon returning to the house, noticed the flourishing greens all over but daughter Huminodun was missing!

When he discovered daughter had died, grief stricken Kinoingan went berserk and started slashing the greens but all of a sudden, he heard a voice from the rice stalks:

Father, father, why are you hurting me so much?  I sacrificed myself to provide food for the people and yet you still want to hurt me some more!”

Instructions from the unseen on 7 rice stalks in 7 jars  

Shocked, Kinoingan fell to the ground and sobbed non-stop.

“‘Do not cry, papa, you will see me again if you do what I say. Take good care of the rice fields, when the rice has ripened, pick seven tallest stalks, tie them, cut them and bring to the house after harvest, one stalk each must be placed inside seven jars and the jar tops must be covered with tarap leaves.

When you hear a knocking against the side of the jars, it is a signal to open it,” Huminodun said after which her voice disappeared’,” Joanna wrote.

Indeed, one day, Kinoingan heard knocking from inside the seven jars! 

When grief turned into ecstatic joy – a beautiful story of Unduk Ngadau

As instructed, he and wife Suminundu opened all seven jars, lo and behold, seven beautiful maidens stood up – one of them was daughter Huminodun – the magic moment when grief turned into ecstatic joy!  

This last part of the folkloric tale is actually enacted at the finals of the State level Kaamatan celebration beauty pageant at Hongkod Koisaan when the last round of judging involves a parade of seven finalists!

The winner of this cultural and heritage beauty pageant is a symbol of Huminodun – a shinning beauty in character whose ultimate sacrifice had reverses comprehensive crop failure and hunger to abundant harvest for which Kaamatan celebrates. 

Asked how they felt being invited to the historic La Salle Kaamatan, Marshya Dewy said: “I am very happy I met our Huguan Siou here.”

Debny Mayly Danny chipped in: “I am also very happy because I had the opportunity to meet Tan Sri (Pairin).” 

Ex-teachers, Veronica Samasundram and Goh Siew Goik, said they noticed that under the leadership of Ram, the alumni is active and think about ex-teachers like them, noting calls individuals like Rashid who would call them.



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