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Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Bajau Festival - Semporna, Sabah

PAINTING the town red is an understatement in Semporna in Sabah especially when the Regatta Lepa Festival makes its annual round. The colours go beyond the small town to the turquoise-coloured sea where Semporna folks, mostly Bajaus, moor their lepa (traditional boats) at the waterfront of Tun Sankaran Marine Park.

The lepa are heavily decorated with colourful sambulayang (sails or flag) in contrasting combinations of red and other bright colours. Traditionally in red, white and black, the sambulayang is raised on special occasions and events like weddings and national day celebrations or to welcome State leaders.

For three days, from April 18-20, the small bay between the Waterfront and the floating Dragon Inn Resort was turned into a vibrant dockyard for a total of 138 lepa.

On the ground, huge sambulayang lined the main road leading to the town centre where the Semporna Municipal Field was located.

Adding to the excitement were the bumper-to-bumper traffic and the hundreds of revellers along the road and any open area available.

All this is definitely a contrasting change from the otherwise laid-back fishing town that Semporna is.

While the waterfront became a stage for beautiful lepa and sports activities, a different kind of celebration was going on at the Semporna Municipal Field.

Here, over 30 units of Bajau traditional houses were erected to showcase Bajau culture that included traditional dance and music, food, costume and art deco.

The 15th Regatta Lepa Festival was officially launched by Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah in a elaborate celebration at the municipal field on April 19.

Also present were Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman, Minister of Unity, Culture, Art and Heritage Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal and their wives.

The festival ended with the announcement of winners for contests which included the main titles for the Best Lepa, the Best Bajau House, the Ratu Lepa and other smaller contests.

Baca lagi...