Matunggong finalist Shyvorne April Jones, 18, (centre) made her first hinava, a traditional dish with other harvest festival beauty pageant contestants at Sabah museum in Kota Kinabalu. Pic by NSTP/EDMUND SAMUNTING

KOTA KINABALU: Unduk Ngadau aspirant Shyvorne April Jones had her first taste of “hinava”, a traditional fish salad, and she prepared it herself.

The 18-year-old sixth former, who is representing Matunggong in the annual Unduk Ngadau or Harvest Festival beauty pageant, admits she is having the time of her life as she discovers her ancestral roots through the contest.

“Hinava” is a unique dish prepared by the Kadazandusun, Murut and Rungus communities using raw fish served with fresh vegetables, squeezed lime and other fresh condiments such as shallots, ginger and chillies.

Shyvorne said she took part in the beauty pageant to understand the native culture better and feel the essence of what the Unduk Ngadau represents, the legend of “Huminodun”, which is about a young woman who sacrificed herself to save her people from famine.

“I was raised in Peninsular Malaysia and moved back to Kudat when I was 11.

Unduk Ngadau contestants are donning traditional sarong during a cultural programme at Sabah museum in Kota Kinabalu. Pic by NSTP/EDMUND SAMUNTING

“Being the finalist representing Matunggong constituency, I am able to learn more of my mother tongue which is Rungus and looking forward to learn the Kadazan language,” said the 158-centimetre tall contestant whose father is British and mother, Rungus.

The petite Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Sikuati student was met at Sabah Museum here on Monday with 45 other finalists who took part in one of the many cultural programmes lined up before the finale on May 31 at Hongkod Koisaan building in Penampang.

The pageant committee chairman Joanna Kitingan said the group was divided into six to learn about musical instruments, handicrafts and preparing traditional delicacies such as tuhau and hinava through the programme.

“For example sompoton (bamboo musical instrument), they will learn about the structure and the chords used to play it,” she explained.

Some 200,000 people are expected to attend the two day finale from tomorrow here, as it is the culmination of the month long festival which was celebrated in every district across the state from May 1.

Traditional sports, as well as agricultural and cultural exhibitions, will be held on the first day while the following day, the closing ceremony of the state-level festival will see a ceremonial harvesting gimmick and Magavau (ceremonial chant) ritual.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal are expected to officiate the closing on May 31 at noon, and Yang di-Pertua Negeri’s wife Toh Puan Norlidah R.M Jasni will present prizes to the winners and the crowning of Unduk Ngadau 2018 in the evening.

The cash prizes for the beauty pageant winners would be doubled this year where the champion, first runner-up and second runner-up would receive RM12,000, RM8,000 and RM6,000 respectively.