Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kahfi : Naik Buai Ceremony

ast weekend marked the end of mr. khairul's business 'roadtrip' and we went back to kampung lalang. mr. khairul's mom planned an impromptu naik buai that i don't have a baju melayu prepared for any of the boys, especially yang diraikan, the dubai-born kahfi!

this was the only one i brought back to kampung that seemed decent (and cute) enough. abang khaleef wanted to wear his ben10 and nothing else. okay.

so in quite a long time, i was part of a real kampung kenduri. masak gotong royong, marhaban by orang masjid and the works. classic.

when we arrived, mr. khairul's mom had already fashioned two hammocks for the 'naik buai' ceremony - green one for kahfi, and the purply girly one for his cousin wafa.

for my non-malay buddies, lemme enlighten you guys on what is the 'naik buai' ceremony!

this ceremony is usually done to celebrate the birth of the first grandchild in the family. however, these days, any baby is a wondrous gift to be celebrated! kahfi is the second grandchild in mr. khairul's family, while wafa is the first grand-daughter.

the celebrated baby would be placed in the buai or hammock-like thingy made from 'batik' cloth or 'songket' and decorated with flowers, fancy cloth, silvery strings and such. if you notice the fancy cloth is elongated on one side of the hammock, to be pulled slowly to rock the hammock as the baby lies inside.

while the baby lie (or if we're lucky, when the baby sleeps) inside the hammock, a group of men or women would sing the 'marhaban', 'nazam' or 'gurindam' to mark the celebration. once done, a decorated door gift, usually in the form of 'bunga telur' would be presented to the marhaban group.

thankfully abah just gave khaleef this new songkok, so i had it with me and put it on the day's celebrity - kahfi! he is so cute in songkok, eh?

khaleef & his aunty sofia

right before the marhaban group arrived, khaleef went goofying around with his aunty sofia, mr. khairul's youngest sister. they're two peas in a pod, they are!

while the kids goofed around, the makciks had bigger things happening in the kitchen. they single-handedly cooked the food for the kenduri. that's kampung event for you - gotong-royong is always the dish of the day - neighbours left and right coming over to help cook and prepare the food. something malaysians should be proud of.

what do we have on the 'dulang'? ikan goreng, sambal udang, ayam rempah, gulai lemak nenas and salad telur. simple but satisfying! served on transparent kenduri plates, placed on white kain seprah right on the floor - memang kenduri melayu!

correct me if i'm wrong, but usually the architecture of a rumah kampung is longer rather than wider so as to provide a suitable venue for an indoor kenduri. even my opah's house in teluk intan has a long design from the hall all the way to the kitchen - no dividing walls!

from the picture you will see how the 'sets' of food were arranged in a long line, on the white cloth. a minimum of 4 people would share a set, as can be seen from the arrangement of the glasses and plates. during the makan-makan, no matter how chaotic, it is quite festive to hear someone shout, "nasi tak cukup!" or "pinggan satu lagi!" or "sambal tambah!" and someone would hurriedly amend the situation.

like i said, the naik buai ceremony was a last-minute thing so mr. khairul did not have his baju melayu! and his dad's baju are all a tad too small for him. the only thing that fits was this long grey male jubah which i convinced him to wear, "hey, sesuai la you kan balik dubai!"

mr. khairul & lil bro k, mr. khairul with his dad, teh holding kahfi, mr. khairul with his mom and last pict - him with his youngest bro asrar

the marhaban people arrived after maghrib. mr. khairul's family took their place and got ready. the proud dads - mr. khairul and my bro-in-law k. proud host and hostess, haji anwar and hajah azian, mr. khairul's parents. proud aunts and uncle - my siblings-in-law teh and asrar. sorry you missed this, tina but i heard you had fun so i guess things went well in genting!

the marhaban troupe comprised of men from the nearby mosque took their place and sat cross-legged in front of the food. they started with tahlil, reciting 'lailahaillallah' - there's no god but Allah - and the loud voices singing glory and praises for Allah reverberated throughout the kampung house in kampung lalang.

after that, the men were invited to feast upon the food. jemput ye, jemput makan!

what? no, the babies were not placed in the hammock just yet. at the time of the makan-makan, they were in fact asleep in the room downstairs!

oit, bangun! your time is coming soon! meanwhile big bro khaleef ate first, munching rice with fried fish. nyum nyum nom nom.

after dinner, it was time for the babies to be placed in the decorated hammock. by the time mr. khairul carried kahfi, he was already awake. but little wafa? she slept right through, totally and absolutely undisturbed!

i can see the suspenseful look of dismay in kahfi's face as he was placed in the hammock as if asking, 'why in the world am i put in here, being stared at by these pakciks and atuks!' and true enough, when the troupe started singing the marhaban in their high, manly-shrill voices that were booming, kahfi started showing signs of pre-crying complete with mulut cebik-cebik.

milk was prepared, kahfi fed and he became more relaxed. in fact, he looked unblinkingly at the 'choir' of men before him as if enjoying a show. and soon enough, eventhough the voices became louder, higher with thundering inflections every now and then - kahfi actually fell asleep! as if after being lulled to sleep through a soothing lullaby!

you must imagine that these are men. manly men. men with loud, raspy voices. booming voices. men who do not sound like anuar zain nor michael buble. they sing marhaban like it was a war-cry to celebrate a triumphant day of happiness, joy and warm welcome to new members of the family. to thank Allah for this bounty. they were loud.

and yet kahfi fell asleep. nyenyak tak terkejut lansung! wafa? she was STILL asleep. i can say that she probably was not even aware of the whole event ever taking place! that, was the power of the marhaban.

other than the normal marhaban which i often witnessed in such events elsewhere, like for my own nephew haiqal, the marhaban group that my dad-in-law invited also sang the amusing gurindam, laden with words of wisdom. gurindam is like a poetic song, sang in the malay community from the days of yore.

in this gurindam sang to my son and my niece, i can hear basic life-advice like 'ilmu agama kajilah selidik' and 'berhati mulia', 'berkasih-sayang' also 'bantu-membantu sesama manusia' - in the hope that the babies would grow up to be good people, pride of their parents.


* * *

another interesting thing to note - i was told that in that marhaban group, there was a strong main PKR person in the kampung, and a strong main UMNO person in the same kampung. and i believe the group also had men who were members of these two rival parties.

..and yet, in this little event, in this humble kampung, they put aside any political beliefs and affiliation - to come together for a mutual reason - to laugh, to sing in praise, to celebrate a happy day for one of their neighbours. these are the kind of political leaders we need. i was truly inspired.

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