BIDAYUHS the people of the Land

Sarawak is rich in history and heritage. It is also known as Land of The Hornbills. The population comprises of local ethnic groups namely Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu, Melanau and other minor tribes plus the Malays, Chinese and Indians living together in harmony for more than a century.

In the olden days, the Bidayuhs were known as “”Land Dayak”. However, today they prefer to be known as “‘ Bidayuh”. In their dialect, “Bi” means ” People” and “Dayuh” means ” Land”‘. Hence, the word “Bidayuh” means “People of the Land”. There are altogether 29 Bidayuh groups in Sarawak. 

As a whole the Bidayuhs are hospitable, humble, trustworthy and friendly people who are not only helpful among themselves but also to other communities in Sarawak as well. The Bidayuhs pay special attention on land and soil and indeed the whole surrounding environment with awe, respect and reverence. Land, to the Bidayuh, is a source of sustenance and of life. Even with the advent of modern development and advanced economic way of life, the majority of the Bidayuhs are still living in the rural areas where they undertake various agricultural pursuits. 

Masters of handicraft, the Bidayuhs traditionally live in Bamboo longhouses. They also produce a wide range of fine bamboo handicrafts ranging from boxes, containers to musical instruments. Bamboo is as well used for cooking.

Among the various celebrations held in Malaysia, Gawai Dakay is celebrated by the Bidayuhs in traditional costumes. Ceremonial offerings of various local traditional delicacies and ‘tuak’ (home-made rice wine) are made to the gods of rice and prosperity.This unique festivity is a ‘must-see’ occasion for local and foreign tourists alike.

Once the previous night’s formal ceremonies finish, tourists are invited to visit on June 1. Activities differ between longhouses; some allow tourists to shoot traditional blowpipe guns or to watch cockfights. No matter the locale, visitors are always greeted with a shot of strong rice wine; drink up or find a place to hide it – refusing is impolite!