Kadazan Religious Beliefs

There are a number of Kadazan religious beliefs.

This does not prevent any of them from participating in events organised by Kadazan communities such as the Pesta Kaamatan or Kadazan Harvest Festival, other festivities and occasions whether joyful or sad.

All of them are still Kadazans and nothing less.

Animist Belief
Kadazan ancestors practised a religious belief that is animistic in nature. They believed that every object such as a tree has a guardian spirit. This is still practised by many Kadazans (or Dusuns) especially those who have not converted to any of the "modern day" religions.

If you travel around Sabah, you may come across such rituals performed by priestesses. For example, if you climb Mount Kinabalu, the highest mountain in South East Asia, you may witness a priestess offering a slaughtered chicken to pacify the spirits of the mountain. After all, this is Nulu Akinablu.

Wikitravel states this:

    "The mountain is sacred to locals. They believe that spirits of their ancestors inhabit the top of the mountain. Previously, a chicken was sacrificed at the peak every time a climb was made but these days this ceremony only happens once a year when only seven chickens are needed to appease the spirits.

This may not differ much to the spiritual practices of the aborigines of Australia. You may heard of some legends of the Ayers Rock.

The animist religious belief may not go away completely any time soon. During harvest festival celebrations, the Kaamatan Festival, especially the Sabah Harvest Festival Celebration, you will surely see a number of priests and priestesses performing an animistic ceremony of giving thanks to the spirit of the rice. The Kadazan people call this spirit "Bambaazon" and the ceremony "Magavau."

The Coming of Christian Missionaries to North Borneo
Thousands among the Kadazan people have become Christians. White missionary priests introduced Christianity to the ancestors of the Kadazans in the 19th century.

The majority of Christian Kadazans are Catholics, followed by Anglicans and other Christian denominations. A high concentration of Christians occurs in Sabah and Sarawak in east Malaysia.

Islamic Belief
The Kadazan ancestors had been exposed to the Islamic religion since the river valleys on the west coast of North Borneo were under the control of Brunei's pangirans. Very few of them became Muslims. It was during the period beginning from the 1960s that many Kadazans embraced Islam as their religion. Many of them were possibly forced to convert or became Muslims as result of marriage to a Muslim man or woman.

System of Superstitious Belief
If you can call superstition as part of religious beliefs, then many Kadazans do have such belief. Perhaps you can classify this under animistic belief.

This is a system of "belief" which you may say is unreasonable in nature since it can involve belief in some omen, good or bad, just because a certain event occurs.

For example, a group that is on the way to arrange for engagement may abort the journey if the group encounters a big monitor lizard or hears a bird's call.

Tension Caused by Differences in Beliefs
In a village, you may find people who have different religious beliefs such as Christians, animists or Muslims. You may even see this situation in some Kadazan households or families.

This situation can cause great stress to families or people in a village. Misunderstanding can occur unless people are cautious in what they say and do.

However, Kadazans who practice different beliefs try to tolerate each other.

Different Kadazan Religious Beliefs But Still Kadazans

Whatever their religious belief or leanings is, they still belong to the Kadazan racial group. Think and act rationally and fairly towards each other. This is crucial to the unity of the Kadazan people. Therefore, practise tolerance. And respect others' religious beliefs.






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