KANGAR (Bernama) — As the ‘Musim Timur’, as the locals call it, appears newcomers to Perlis may easily mistaken the roar in the sky for thunder.
The roar is due to the buzzing drone from the traditional giant kites or wau floating in the air, thanks to the favourable winds that appear from Feb-March when the Northeast Monsoon nears its tail end.
This is when most of the 26,500 hectares of paddy field in Perlis have been harvested and the fields have started to dry up.
As for the paddy growers, this is the time to take a break before the new planting season that starts during the Southwest Monsoon (May to Sept) that brings rain.
With favourable winds during the season, the dried up paddy fields now serve as the venue to fly kites, play football, hold telematch and cultural shows and not to mention feasts.
The ‘Musim Timur’ serves as the opportune moment for numerous community activities including traditional games like flying kites.
So during this time the sky is full of kites in various shapes and colours – wau helang (eagle kite), wau bulan (moon kite), wau jala budi (in the shape of a woman’s body), wau merak (peacock kite) and wau kucing (cat kite) – that not only fly high but also produce a loud humming sound from the hummers affixed to the kite’s front.
As the wind speed increases, the drone increases in its pitch in tandem.
The secretary for the Perlis Wau and Kite Association Ahmad Jamaluddin Doyah noted that kites brought nostalgic memories of the past.
And the ‘wau’ goes beyond sports and recreational activity. It brings new friendships and renews old bonds.
“We have society members who are experts in making the giant kites and in flying them,” he said to Bernama.
Though many new kite designs have appeared, the traditional wau still rules the skies of Perlis with some of its owners keep them suspended on the air for several days and nights.
THE EAST MONSOON FEST
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Arts and Culture in conjunction with its counterpart in the state seemed to have capitalised on the favourable winds of ‘Musim Timur’ as well. A three-day ‘Pesta Angin Timur 2015’ festival was held beginning from March 6.
The programme was organised by the Department for Culture and Arts in Perlis and it took place at the Kampung Sungai Berembang located close to the sea.
The State Culture, Arts and Heritage Chairman Abdul Jamil Saad told Bernama, for the locals the festival evokes nostalgia and for the visitors it showcases a unique heritage in the sky.
While the kites flew high in the sky, back in terra firma there were many other interesting and unique activities rolled out to keep the participants engaged. Among them were mimicking bird calls, groping fish in the mud, telematch and cultural shows.
Abdul Jamil who was also the head of the organising committee for the event said the festival would be turned into an annual affair.
BRINGING BACK THE OLD TRADITIONS
The monsoon season in fact provided the opportunity to bring back the old traditions that have become oblivion with time.
Among them is the art of pounding paddy during full moons. The rhythmic sound of pounding of the glutinous rice paddy breaks the silence of the night in the villages.
Up to six pounders are used and the rhythmic pounding of the pounders creates a unique rhythm.
The locals also make flutes from the paddy stalks and leaves from coconut fronds and when they are blown by its owners they create a wonderful melody.
THE LOCALS TOO ADD TO THE EXCITEMENT
The locals have learnt well and appreciate the rhythms of the ‘Musim Timur’. This is the time that they feel is worth doing something out of the routine.
The locals even choose the season to hold wedding feasts or celebrate thanksgiving as the dried up paddy fields provide them with ample space to put up tents and allow visitors to park their cars.
As for those who want to get their hands dirty, they can try their hands on groping fish in the mud as the rivers dry up.
In a nutshell, the ‘musim timur’ is the time to unwind and float on a cloud of nostalgic bliss.