About travel, holidays and hotels in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Sunday June 5th 2011

Ethnic Beauty Contest

As some of our foreign friends may already know, the Harvest Festival of the Kadazandusuns is celebrated on the 30th and 31st of May. I seem to recall that it is supposed to be celebrated non-stop for those 2 days.

One of the highlights of the Kaamatan Festival or the Harvest Festival is the Beauty Pageant. Known as the Unduk Ngadau Kaamatan or Harvest Queen Competition. The local beauties are judged at district level with the final being held at Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Hongkod Koisaan on 31st May. The ladies of the pageant are dressed in dazzling traditional ethnic costumes, traditional hairstyle, with accessories befitting a princess.

2008 Unduk Ngadau is Leonie Lawrence Gontuni from Penampang.

The question all contestants were asked was: “What makes the Unduk Ngadau Beauty Pageant different from other beauty pageants?”
The Unduk Ngadau, Leonie Lawrence’s winning answer was: “Unlike other beauty pageants, Unduk Ngadau re-lives the story of the legend of Huminodun, who sacrificed herself to save mankind.” Her answer says a lot about the people of Sabah, their traditions and their culture.

unduk ngadau
unduk ngadau

This is a beauty pageant steeped in tradition and legend. The first Unduk Ngadau competition was held in the early 1960s, but the true history and meaning of the beauty pageant goes back to the legends.


Following the footsteps of Legends
When the earth was plagued by the seven scourges sent down by the deity Kinorohingan to punish mankind for their sinful ways. The seventh scourge was drought and famine which threatened to end all life on earth. Kinorohingan’s only daughter Ponompuan, also referred to as Huminodun, took pity on mankind’s plight and sacrificed herself to end the famine that had plagued her father’s people. Her body parts were planted as seeds and became rice, the staple food source of the people. Thus the importance of rice in the lives of the Kadazandusun, as rice embodies the spirit of Huminodun who sacrificed herself to save humanity.

Padi, because it is part of Huminodun, embodies a sacred spirit namely “Bambaazon” or in some dialects “Bambarayon” and so during Harvest festival or Kaamatan, the Kadazandusuns regard it befitting to hold a feasting celebration to honor Bambaazon. In turn the Bambaazon is believed to improve the harvest every year.

Modern Day Beauty
Did you know that Daphne Eleano Iking, is the Unduk Ngadau for 2003? She is the co-host of The Breakfast Show on NTV7.

I have never been a strong supporter of beauty pageants, what’s the point? It took me a long time before I realized that there was a purpose to the Kaamatan Beauty Pageant.

Photo source: www.lifeinborneo.com

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4 Comments for “Ethnic Beauty Contest”

  • Bonie Tan says:

    Hi, I’m Bonie from Arissa Studios Cosmetic. Would like to inquiry if we would like to sponsor for this Ethnic Beauty Contest who shall I contact? Tks

  • adrian says:

    Hi Bonie, I’ve just emailed you. Hope we can work something out. Thanks!

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