In Sabah, rice is the grain of life. Pesta Ka’amatan symbolizes the sharing of new paddy harvest and the thanksgiving to the Source of All.
"The word ‘Kaamatan’ derives from the root word ‘tomot’, a Kadazandusun term for “harvest”. Kaamatan Festival embodies the principal acts of invocation of divinities, appeasing, purification and restoration, re-union of benevolent spirits, and thanksgiving to the Source of All. It is part of a complex wholesome Momolian religious system centered on the paddy rites of passage and the life cycle of Bambarayon - the in-dwelling spirit of paddy."- http://kdca.org.my/kaamatan
However, Kaamatan Harvest Festival is not just a celebration to signify the beginning of harvest. To truly understand more about Kamaatan Harvest Festival, a myth is to be told.
It all begins with their God, Kinoingan who took pity towards the people suffering from a great famine many moons ago. In order to save the people, he sacrificed his daughter, Huminodun, by cutting her into small pieces. After that, he sowed her flesh over the land and padi (rice) grew. It is believe that the spirit of Huminodun is embodied in the rice and therefore known as Bambarayon or Bambazon.
Unduk Ngadau ( Harvest Beauty Queen )
One of the major highlights of the Harvest Festival is to witness the highly anticipated Unduk Ngadau (Harvest Beauty Queen pageant). Unduk Ngadau basically reflects the beauty of the heart, mind and body in all its entirety – all that Huminodun embodies. In honouring the legend of Huminodun, the Unduk Ngadau celebrates the epitome of that very ideal, yearly at the KadazanDusun Cultural Association Sabah (KDCA),Penampang.
The crowning takes place at the end of the festival. The title Unduk Ngadau comes from the ethnic word Runduk Tadau which means 'the girl crowned by sunlight'.