06 December 2010
The guardians of the sacred mountain
Recently an event called Kinabalu Biodiversity Expo was held in my hometown. This expo was indeed significant, as it publicly acknowledged the Dusuns' reverence of the Kinabalu mountain, one they had once believed to have been the residence of the souls of their departed loved ones. (Even now, some might still believe this to be true even though I suspect it is only a small portion of the community). Most Dusuns now still appreciate the symbolism of the mountain; it is still very much revered. The expression "since time immemorial" is an apt one to describe the people's tradition of revering the mountain. And it is not hard to understand why. The beauty of the mountain is breathtaking. From the top, which is quite a struggle to reach, one is presented with a scenic view of the surrounding valleys that the hours of painful climb can easily be forgotten.
My people, the people of Bundu Tuhan, together with the people of Kiau paid homage to the sacred mountain on the day of the expo. 97 of the villagers climbed up the mountain in what people term as "the pilgrimage". A ceremony called Monolob in which a Bobolian (shaman) chanted and slaughtered 7 chickens to appease the spirits of the mountain preceded the climb. And on they climbed, up then down again in the spirit of tradition.
It dawned on me that many descendants of the Dusuns from Kiau and Bundu Tuhan might have taken their role as the guardians of the sacred mountain for granted. They see the mountain, admire it, accept the traditional myths on it, and yet are not aware that they are its guardians. The expo has been good to remind them of this. It's their birthright, being the guardians of the sacred mountain. It is up to them to preserve its beauty, as well as the tradition associated with it.