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Mansuong Ceremony For Earth Defenders And Climate Justice

In Sabah, Indigenous Peoples and local communities held Mansuong, a harvest ritual of the Kadazandusun, in time for the ongoing COP26 and Global Day of Action on Climate Justice. The Bornean ritual aims to give solidarity for all earth, water and air protectors of the world and to contribute to the global efforts to address the climate emergency. This article is written by Angelica S. Suimin of Pertubuhan Bobolian Sabah.

The Kadazandusun worldview believe that Kinorohingan has created all creature in the heaven and earth, comprising of universe, sky, earth, humans, floras and faunas. The symbiotic interactions amongst human beings, between plants, nature and animals are visible. Any imbalances in this interaction is deem to cause sickness/diseases, environment catastrophe like flood, forest fire,chemical or oil spills,war and death. Thus, ritual ceremony has to be carried out by the ritual specialists, the bobolian of whom are majority female although there are male bobolians as well. The Bobolians or ritual specilists are the only people who functions as an intermediary between human beings and supernatural beings to alleviate afflictions of infertility, disease, misfortune, environment disasters or crop failures.

One of the remaining rituals that is still being actively practised by the Kadazandusun communities is MANSUONG. MANSUONG literally means offering and thanksgiving ceremony to Kinorohingan for the years bountiful harvest (paddy, fruits, fish and income). The Kadazandusun people of Membakut, Papar and Kimanis in the past will incorporate the MANSUONG CEREMONY with a bigger ritual feast that last for 2 nights and 3 days known as MOGINAKAN ( to rejuvenate the universe thanking the divine creator including the spirits that guides the earth, air, water, flora and fauna for providing life to the people on earth. It seeks retribution and errors that humankind has committed throughout the year (e.g incest, over cutting the forests, over harvesting the rivers, environment degradation through solid/chemical spills, fighting etc). This is done through offerings and slaughtering of chicken or pig, offering the best selected food crops, rice cakes,betel nut, tobacco, rice wine and by products prepared by bobolians (ritual specialists). It starts from the hillside (MANSUONG DUDAN) to rice field (MONOGIT) and the river estuary to the sea (MANSOUNG SAVA/DOHUNGAN).

Madsuong ceremony is carried out this year with special consideration of the pandemic situation in Sabah. It is carried out by the remaining bobolians in Membakut to thank the divine creator Kinorohingan and all the nature spirit guides. Seeking retribution for the past misdeeds, blessings for universal balance and the people to be protected from the Covid-19 diseases and all environmental disasters due to climate change. It is also carried out with ‘momihin’ or seeking permission which is literally a prior inform consent to the divine creator on the postponement of the other ritual ceremony at the rice field and river estuary to a later date due to the COVID-19 movement control restrictions.

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