August 4, 2014

Sibu Tales : Memories of Hari Raya and Kek Kepala Meja

When you are a teenager, you are just very happy to participate in anything with your friends. You enjoy being included and with permission from your parents you would be happy to venture out of your home.
In the 1960's one of the most exciting event to happen in quiet and slow Sibu was to visit our Malay friends during Hari Raya Puasa (in those days we had not come to understand the full meaning of Eid or Aidil fitri).
We Chinese kids only knew that our classmates were fasting from dawn to dusk and they looked awfully pale and were very weak. Some of the stronger ones could take part in games and sports and were able to keep up with their studies and work parties.

Come visiting day (on the second of the Hari Raya) we would be dressed in our best while our friends would be wearing the finest of their baju kurong and baju Melayu to welcome us to their homes.
It was fun drinking Banana flavoured aerated water. I loved the cream soda too if it was offered.
But the cakes offered were unforgettable.
One cake at the head of the table which could not be touched was the Kek Kepala Meja.
It was for many of us, to view an iced cake. All the roses were admired. All the special silver balls were admired. We did not know that the icing was called Royal Icing. (Imagine that!!)

And we went ooooohhhh, ahhhhhhh . Dodol, bahulu and other kuihs were taken out for us to try. And then, best of all, we were offered curry and some ketupat. Of course we knew that we could only sample a bit because we have about 30 houses more to visit.
The kek kepala Meja was well decorated and was placed on the table which had a very nice table cloth usually. We would sit around a lower table at another part of the living room. We were told that when other visitors came, we had to shake hands and make a move towards another house. Very very orderly.
These are Raya Cakes at a Minister's House in Kuching. Look only. Not for eating at the moment.
This is another beautifully decorated cake for Hari Raya. Photo from Google.

We actually do not know when the idea of Kek Kepala Meja went out of fashion.

This is a very nice Hari Raya Cake.

Now this is another Kek Kepala Meja..for Hari Raya...This would give the family a good status.

I truly believe that the Kek Kepala Meja was a kind gesture from the family to indicate their financial strength for the Raya. And partly it would indicate the skills of the women of the house.

But whatever it was we as secondary school students enjoyed visit our friends socially, at least once a year, to wish them a Selamat Hari Raya, and to meet their grand parents, parents and other family members. We learned to shake hands and be polite. It was good also that our teachers (especially the foreign teachers) would come along with us. In those days, we cycled every where. So before the sun set, we had to head for home and the bicycles carried us speedily home before it was dark.

Kek Lumut, or the Green Malay cake made from horliks and kaya would always be remembered because my family would visit Kak (our neighbour) and enjoy special treats . The family would make 3 of these cakes, using their heavy BRASS ACUAN, the old traditional baking method of old kampong days.
My teachers, my Muslim friends and I remain in touch all these years. So Selamat Hari Raya to all my friends of Sibu days.

(P/sAlas, the curfew and other political developments somehow curtailed a lot of these visitations. I am wondering if school students visit each other during the Hari Raya in Sibu.)


Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

Our immediate neighbours at Padang road were Malays, so this visiting started when I was very young. Now my friend Dayang Soraya makes cakes in Miri.

Anonymous said...

Methodist School was next to the Kampongs. Most Malays would study there. It was very much later iWhen SMK Kampong Nangks was built that they moved over to the bew school.

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