Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ramadhan in Trengganu

I don't know how it is now, but spending Ramadhan in Trengganu was a lot of fun to me. Perhaps it was because I was a child and need not have to worry about what to cook for iftar. tee hee.

The beginning of ramadhan is marked by the sound of the cannon (from the top of Bukit Puteri?). The sound would usually be followed by someone or other saying "hoh! Esok Posa" (hoh, tomorrow we start fasting). I guess the end of the fasting month would be marked the same way, but I never know because we were always somewhere else, either in Merang, where my dad's side of the family lives or in Besut, where my mom's side of the family lives.

Iftar (the breaking of fast at sundown), during Ramadhan was almost always done with special fare, though not necessarily with Trengganu food. My mom's offering during ramadhan would include western dishes like Chili Con Carne, beef stew, these meatballs with peas eaten with bread, and spaghetti bolognaise, things she doesnt normally cook throughout the rest of the year. Once in a while we'd have malaysian food like rice and noodles, but it's those special dishes that we look forward to (and still crave for till now) every Ramadhan.
Hm.. was there any special food that Trengganu folks eat during Ramadhan? I'm not sure.. as far as I can remember, the food was great throughout the year, so I can't recall anything special for the month of ramadhan. Except maybe for Air Nira and Nekbat.
Air Nira is the nectar from palm flowers. Expert climbers would climb up a palm tree, cut a bit off the flower and hang a container of some sort to collect the dripping nectar. The collected nectar is sold by the roadsides at small wooden stalls, and my dad would not fail to stop if he sees one.
Nekbat are these tiny oval shaped cakes made of flour and eggs, I think, and it is usually served cold in clove spiked syrup sauce. They are cool, soft, creamy and sweet at the same time. Just the thought of them makes me drool. Unfortunately I couldnt find any the last time I went home.
The above 2 items are available throughout the year, but somehow we only have it during ramadhan, perhaps because they are considered to be quite indulgent food, and we could only have it as a reward for fasting.

I started learning to fast when I turned 7, I think.
Like all kids, I started fasting for half a day first, breaking my fast at noon instead of sundown. After awhile though, you get tired of the taunts "Posa yang yok, pagi pagi bukok puyok" (fasting you're not, early morning opening the pot) and you would try to fast for the whole day. Achieving this was okay when school is in session, but when the school holiday starts and we go back to my grandmother's place where all the other kids are also on holiday and they ask you to come out and play and you play all. day. long, it's quite a feat to keep yourself from breaking your fast. I must admit, there were a few times, after a session of rounders or deghghak (walking around) somewhere, I would come home and sneak a drink from the payyang koko (the brown earthen vessel) at the foot of the green steps of my grandmother's house (Sorry, Papa! *sheepish grin*). The cup may just be a chetong made out of rusty milk tin, and the water may just be un-cooked well water put there to be used to wash your feet before you come into the house, but at that moment, it tasted like the cool nectar from heavens.

I loved going back to my grandmother's house during Ramadhan. Aside from her ttuppat sutong (Stuffed squid) and the numerous friends I could play with, there was also Malam Tujuh Likur, probably the highlight of a child's life in the month of ramadhan. "Malam Tujuh Likur" is celebrated on the 27th night of Ramadhan. During this time, most of the houses would be busy preparing eid cookies and the night air would be filled with the sweet smell of baking. People would begin decorating their house for eid, by hanging lapu nynyeceh nynyembor (them twinkling lights), if you can afford it, or just the pelita, lanterns made out of milk tins filled with turpentine and a piece of rag or string as a wick. You'd get to try on your raya clothes for the first time. You'd get to walk around with your friends with lanterns, either the milk tin kind or the storebought paper ones with a birthday candle, to light your way while you deghghak meghata (walkaround everywhere).
Fireworks haven't been banned yet when I was growing up, so we would also light the skies up with them. There were the long thin ones that shoot multicolored balls of fire (together we would all count out loud how many there are), there were ones that would release a parachute at the end of the explosion, and then there were milder ones- like the hand held bunga-api (sparklers), or those shaped like a snake and would leave a crumbly ash in a coil when it goes out (macam ubat nyamuk). For those of us that can't afford fireworks, we would go around, lanterns in hand, and look for ppurong (Coconut shells). We'd stack them up on a pole (erected by an adult for that purpose), then when we've covered the whole pole, an adult would light them up in a tower of bonfire. Doesn't sound like much now, but at that time, it was like the best fire show ever. I guess there's a tiny closet arsonist in all of us.

I wish my kids could experience all this, but unfortunately the environment nowadays is different from what it used to be when I was growing up. I would never let them walk around in the dark on their own, unless it's in the compound.
ah.. the good old days. *sigh*


  1. I miss my childhood moments - walking in the dark to play hide and seek on malam tujuh likur without worrying og getting kidnapped, holding the 'mercun das' with eyes closed and sneaking in the house for freshly baked 'biskut raya'... and of course lots more...

    elisa pun curi2 minum air ye... ;) sedap kan.. neeza minum air kolam dalam toilet rasa macam sirap ais!!!

  2. neeza,
    astaghfirullah!! air kolam = air sirap...?
    tapi bukak puasa curi2 paling best, kan? Cuma lepas tu rasa guilty gila..

  3. the only memory of bulan puasa nak dekat raya is my main mercun which includes meriam buluh and pelbagai mercun yang bunyi bising tak tentu arah. i experience menyalakan api pakai mancis masa darjah satu. rasa sungguh adult.

    and of courselah bau kueh raya. yang nampaknya sampai kesudah la ni tak ada bau kat rumah I. sungguh tak kuasa. (goddess lah konon)

    nowadays? kalau nak pergi masjid pun tak berani lepaskan sorang-sorang.

  4. lolls,
    you know what, as far as I can remember, I tak pernah tengok/dengar orang main meriam buluh kat Trengganu. Maybe orang tranung tak main meriam buluh kot?
    My nenek the original mokciknab selalu buat kuih sorok2 tak kasi orang tengok secret recipe dia. Bangun pagi raya aje, tetiba ada her famous agar-agar ros. (or maybe I yang sebok main and tak sedar dia buat.. eheheh)
    Ye lah, nowadays kalau bawak pegi terawikh kat masjid pun kita asyik risau takut sedar2 hilang..
    isy isy isy

  5. Lisa, seronok weh ingat balik old sweet memories. Paling sweet.. tolong mak susun kuih raya dalam balang. Pastu hilang sebahagian... masuk mulut sendiri le...ehhehe..

  6. 21 Ramadan 1429

    We played 'Chak Ta Lok' after Taraweh. Played until almost mid night. In those days, need not to worry about kidnappers. More worried about falling down the abundance well.

    Ramli AR

  7. Eh Olie tak sangka you are from Terengganu Kite ye...

    12 years I was there, felt like home already.... I missed Kertih... tp, still tak reti cakap terengganu... bila olie cakap "jo'on" aje semua ketawa...

    cakap "nawop" lagi berdekah...


  8. nad,
    weh laki bini mengomen harini weh..
    part tolong buat kuih raya yang tak tahan tuh... :P

    abg ramli,
    cer acu tanya orang hok buleh cakap siam gak.. maybe ya sungguh "Chak Ta Lok" tu is a siamese version of polis sentry.

    oh u were in kerteh ke before? entah2 my hubby knows your hubby. He used to go to kerteh all the time.
    I love that Cukai-Kerteh-Kijal area.. :)

  9. eh ruginya kan budak2 sekarang tak da experience macam kita dulu.

    and la ni, to most of us 'balik kampung' would mean balik ke rumah makayah kat taman perumahan rumah batu.

    this year kan, rata-rata kalau i tanya orang, "balik mana tahun ni???". They would answer, "kat KL je. mana ada kampung dah, dah tak de orang kat kampung." lebih kurang macam family i la jugak tu.

  10. i wonder what my children's memories of ramadhan would be like.

  11. yes, we were there since 1994. My hubby works Petr'nas. Olie pun before thsi. I guess, anybody in kertih will somehow be connected to someone in kertih jugak... small town aje kan...

    kurang2 jumpa kat pasar tani..

  12. Anonymous6:56 AM

    ya betul. teringat jugak pasal meriam atas bukit puteri. waktu berbuka dan imsak pun ada dentuman bunyi meriam. tapi rasanya sudah tak digunakan lagi sekarang. :)

  13. olie,
    we never lived in kerteh. Taufik pun pergi sekali sekala untuk jumpa customer kat Shell(eh, Esso? tak ingat dah). But eversince diorang pindah office ke KL, dah jarang benar pergi, unless nak tengok bit kat warehouse in KSB.
    Tapi o&g ni bukan besar sgt pun. Your hsuband jaga front end or back end?

    Dah tak ada ya, meriam tu? Sayang nya.. it was really unique to KT. :(

  14. My husband in PetChem. Only Olie was in Upstream. I think yr husband visited Esso. He must be very upstream since you mentioned bit? Is it drilling bits ke?

  15. Olie,
    Oh yes, Upstream/Downstream as opposed to front/back end. Sorry I got confused. I used to work in a factory, you see :)
    Yes my husband is in the very upstream, he sells drilling bits :)

  16. definitely not good reading you describe about food, with only about 3 hours to go *lapar lapar..

    i think due to the fact that we couldn't afford to buy much fireworks when i was little, tu yang kita orang adik beradik, now, macam peghak main mercun masa raya ehehehe

  17. maktok I panggil bunyi "bedir"

    my last 2 years puasa masih ada yang tempab tapi from bukit kecik no longer from bukit puteri..

    this year i'm not sure... I hope it still practicing it... meriah je..

    let me share with you after raya celebration.. i only got a chance berpuasa for 1 day at Terengganu this year. Will se how it goes..

  18. mosh,
    oh, so tiap kali main mercun, bapaknya selalu lebih dari anak eh?

    oh yes.. 'bedir' as in 'bedil' :) I think my grandma called it that too :)

  19. hahaha... i love the way u spell out the t'ganu vocabs! :-D

  20. naj,
    I only spell it the way I hear/speak it :)
    jjadi dok?

  21. Its ok, when I read yours front end back end... I got the wierd thoughts flashing by since I hv never worked in a factory..

    Hmmm drilling bits huh... must be oozing money nowadays with oil price so high....

  22. jjadi!!! hehehe.. terbayang my cousins speaking those words... keh keh keh

  23. sedaknye air nira... I panggil 'air tuok' (but not the mabuk kind).

    yes, they still tembok bedir for sahur & iftar this year. I was at my parents' on 1st Ramadhan in KT.

    my nieces & nephews are now in the same kg where I used to grow up, tapi tak dok doh mmaing mcm jamang-jamang dulu.