Rituals to 'contact' spirits begin

Rituals to 'contact' spirits begin
Seeking the spirits: One of the Lotud priestesses chanting during the ritual in Kampung Bantayan.

KOTA KINABALU - A series of indigenous rituals called monolibabau have begun at the foothills of Mount Kinabalu.

Two tantagas (Lotud priestesses) began a ceremony by the ethnic Lotud community of the Tuaran district to communicate with the mountain spirits last night at a community hall in Kampung Bantayan near Tamparuli town.

The ritual saw the elderly tantagas wearing hoods and chanting prayers to enable their libabou (guardian spirits) to connect with the mountain spirits.

They wanted to know whether the mountain spirits had been angered by the actions of 10 foreigners on May 30 and if so, how they could appease them, said Tuaran native chief Saniban Amphila.

Once the sogit (peace offerings) was known, he said, another ceremony would be held.

Kadazandusun Cultural Associa­tion executive secretary Benedict Topin said Dusun Tindal in Kota Belud district, Kimaragang in Kota Marudu and the Bundu Liwan community of Kundasang were also planning their own rituals.

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, the Huguan Siou or Kadazandusun paramount leader, said the earthquake had affirmed the indigenous communities' belief that the Western tourists' actions had desecrated the sacred grounds.

The conviction of the four tourists from Sabah had brought an end to the matter, he added.

The nudists - Canadian siblings Lindsey and Danielle Petersen, Briton Eleanor Grace Hawkins and Dutch national Dylan Thomas Snel - left Sabah yesterday.

The Kota Kinabalu Sessions Court ordered them to be jailed for three days from the day they were arrested on June 9, fined RM5,000 each and deported from the state.

State Police Commissioner Datuk Jalaluddin Ibrahim said that they were still on the lookout for six others who had stripped on the mountain.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the conviction was a clear message to tourists to respect the customs and beliefs of native people.

Steps would be taken, he added, to ensure that a list of dos and don'ts on the mountain was clearly explained to climbers.

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