KOTA KINABALU - The sacrifice of seven chickens began the first of a three-day ceremony at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu as part of an elaborate ritual to appease mountain spirits said to reside there.
Some 50 bobolian or Kadazandusun shamans representing tribes began chanting age-old prayers as part of the monolob-monogit ceremony from Friday afternoon.
Led by senior bobolian Aman Sirom from Kota Belud, the shamans' rituals will continue until Sunday.
The ethnic groups involved were the Tambanuo from Pitas, Kimaragang (Kota Marudu), Tobilung (Kota Marudu), Tindal (Kota Belud) and the Kadazan of Kimanis and Papar.
Kadazandusun Cultural Association executive secretary Benedict Topin said said the gathering of so many ethnic communities for the appeasing ritual was unprecedented.
"What the bobolian will try to do is reach out to the spirits of the mountain " he said.
He said the chickens, goats and a pig would be sacrificed over the course of three days.
"The ceremony is the coming together of the people to call on the spirits of the mountain and surrounding areas," Benedict said.
He said the dates were chosen to coincide with the occurrence of a full moon.
This would be the fourth such appeasing ritual following the June 5 earthquake that occurred just a week after 10 western tourists stripped naked near the mountain summit.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the Huguan Siou or Kadazandusun paramount leader, said the tourists had desecrated the mountain, considered sacred to Sabah's ethnic communities.
Four of the tourists - two Canadians, a Dutch and a Briton - were subsequently convicted for obscene behaviour and fined RM5,000 each before being deported from Sabah.
Since then, the Lotud community of Tuaran had held their tomabor or appeasing ceremony in the district June 16.
This was followed by a similar ritual by the Kadazandusun communities of Kampung Kiau and Bundu Tuhan organised by the Mount Kinabalu Council of Elders at the Kinabalu Park on June 20.
The Kadazandusun community of Ranau also held a monolob ritual on the same day at Mamut at the mountain's foothills.