The Chinese New Year is celebrated with pomp and pageantry and merrymaking. The streets in townships resound with cymbals and drums while the lions and dragons prance around in merriment. Onlookers of all shapes and sizes, and colours and ethnicity cheer them on.
A homestay went one step ahead it seems, and celebrated this festival in their compound.
Kampung Papaga Papar is one of the places that should be given a visit and a stay over. This area which lays 40 kilometres south-west of Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah used to be one of the producers of rice in the State.
Time went by and modernisation set in, and most people there went for more than paddy planting. It’s not to say that there is no more of these activities there though, and with the homestay programme it is given a new lease of life.
Kampung Papaga’s Homestay programme called Koposizon Homestay falls back on the local norms of that area that have been practised since time immemorial says its spokesperson William Lee.
He says, Koposizon which means livelihood is a very apt word for the village as it has a very good scenario and backdrop for this sort of programme.
This is because they have thrived on ensuring that the authenticity of the people’s way of life is practised within the village.
“Of course development is enjoyed here, and we have modern facilities but there are many things that we have not forgotten, and these are the products that we promote to our tourists,” he stresses.
The tourism products are local Kadazan based where they promote various aspect of village life, such as picking fruits, planting and harvesting rice, and eating local food such as sago grubs and sago pancakes.
“But we don’t forget the other aspect of our local culture and tradition, which is respect for other festivities that are celebrated by our friends, neighbours and family.”
“We must remember that we are a people that have lived together for so long that we have intricate intermarriages. We have relatives that are Muslims while some are Christians, while others are Buddhists. During festivals, we celebrate together like a big family. We visit them and share their joy. They too visit us during such events,” says William, who is married to a Kadazan.
Today, the first day of Chinese New Year, he plays host to people from Hong Kong, Japan and domestic tourists.
“I believe that the festival is one of the best ways to promote rapport and friendship among the people,” he says adding that homestay is a good conduit to promote understanding too.
An officer from the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry Aina Sidek concurs with William, adding that she is very happy with the Homestay’s role not only in promoting tourism but also in promoting solidarity among the people.
“I support the role of the Homestay programme fully and I am very happy with the Koposizon homestay’s function in ensuring the continuity of culture and traditions, promoting tourism and in this level, enhancing rapport and friendship among the people.”
The reception at William’s home epitomises 1Malaysia indeed, as people of different racial and religious background sat down and ate together in celebration.- Sayangsabah.