Monday, October 24, 2005When I was young, which was a very very long time ago and learning how to fast during Ramadhan, Mok (mother) would likened the fast to climbing a hill. Everyday we would get higher. By the 15th of Ramadhan, we would be on the top of the hill. After that, we would just coast downhill and there will be less (or no more) whining.
By today, the Faithful would have fasted for 20 days. The ibadah would be doubled during the last 10 days of Ramadhan in the hope of chancing upon the night of all nights, Lailalatul Qadr - The Night of Power.
By this time, in Terengganu and most places in Malaysia, most houses would be decorated with homemade pelita (lamps) or store-bought blinking Christmas lights. Some would opt for chaser lights, Vegas style. I shall not bother with the whys and wherefores of these lights. Enemies of Islam joked that the lights are to guide the angels down while some Muslims thought that the practice is too much Hindu-like. Both thoughts did not cross my mind when I celebrated Malam Tujuh Likur together with millions of other kids in Malaya and later, Malaysia.
Until today, I did not bother to find out what is this likur stuff. All I knew was, when we jumped up and down and waved our tanglong (lantern) or a reasonable alternative on the evening of Tujuh Likur, Raya is only 3 days away. That would be Sepuluh likur for likur is from the way the Javanese count. 21 is selikur, 23 is telulikur, 26 is nemlikur while 27 is pitulikur.
In the town, I remember celebrating Malam Tujuh Likur with Chinese lanterns and some carbide. The carbides were for the bedil buloh (bamboo cannons) when we were older. Bedil buluh were used for friendly duels with the boys in the next kampung. In Merang, where Chinese lanterns were not readily available, we used coconut shells. Nek (grandmother) would have stockpiled a pile of dry coconut shells in the front yard since the first day of Ramadhan. The bulk of the tempurung (coconut shell) was spiked on a long upright pole much like a kebab and burnt like a bonfire. Some tempurung were used as lanterns. Just stick a candle inside the shell, light it up and it is safe enough for excited young hands to carry it around. These crude lanterns were enough to entertain us until the candle burned out.
When my children's turn to celebrate Malam Tujuh Likur came, lanterns were commonplace and so were accidentally setting them on fire. We had to have spare lanterns to spare wet eyes. By this time, crackers and sparklers already appeared and the night was filled with the sound of screaming rockets and the smoke of burnt sparklers and firecrackers.
I am glad to announce that none of my children lost any finger during Malam Tujuh Likur.