Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Taste of Aidilfitri in Interior areas of Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Aidilfitri has already become synonymous with certain favourites like ‘lemang’, ‘ketupat’ dan ‘rendang’. Hari Raya would not be complete without them on the table, it seems. But in the interior areas of Sabah, traditional food from the forest is the choice.

‘Sambal tepu’, ‘linupit’, ‘sayur bukaruk’, ‘jeruk’ and linompuka are among the popular traditional favourites to fill up the table for guests to enjoy. ‘Lemang’, ‘ketupat’ dan ‘rendang’ will be served too. For the rural folks, traditional food reflects their identity.

For the Muslim members of the community in Alab Lanas, their traditional food is their pride and there are no better days to prepare them for their guests than a festive season like Aidilfitri.

Kg Alab Lanas is a remote village in Sook, Keningau. It is located 80 kilometres from Keningau town and is accessible through a long drive along a gravel road. The village has a small population of 600 and are mostly Catholics. Another village, Kg Kuit Lanas which is about 2 kilometres away, has a majority Muslim population. All the villagers originate from Sungai Lobou.

As always on the eve of Aidilfitri, several Muslim families in Kg Alab Lanas would make all the necessary last minute preparations like decorating the house, making cakes and cooking traditional food. Work is carried out by all members of the family and their relatives, including those do not share the same faith. What is shared is the spirit of togetherness, of lending a hand whenever it is needed.

In the morning of Aidilfitri, the Muslim families would make a 2-kilometre walk to a nearby mosque to perform prayers after which they would start exchanging visits to one another’s house, an age old tradition that is practiced during all festive seasons in the country.

But house visiting here is unique. The Christians from Kg Alab Lanas would walk together in a large group to visit their Muslim neighbours in Kg Kuit Lanas. It is a distinctive display of faith solidarity hardly seen in any other places.

The main highlight of house visiting is the traditional food offered by the hosts. These include ‘jaruk’ (or also known as ‘sinamu’), traditional cakes made of glutinous rice and tapioca wrapped in banana leaves (linempuka) and boiled or fried tapioca.

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