Sea of lights as villagers celebrate Panjut festival

(From left) Mohd Farihin Azrin, Mohd Nor Hakim Md Ruzanil and Mohd Ashraf Azmi light oil lamps in front of the entry by Kampung Keroh Hulu. — Pictures by Farhan Najib
(From left) Mohd Farihin Azrin, Mohd Nor Hakim Md Ruzanil and Mohd Ashraf Azmi light oil lamps in front of the entry by Kampung Keroh Hulu. — Pictures by Farhan Najib

KUALA KANGSAR, June 25 — Villages around the Padang Rengas parliamentary constituency were lit up with the dazzling glow of candlelight on Friday night.

Throughout the area, oil lamps sat atop giant intricate structures made of wood and rattan, tracing unique designs in the night sky.

The special sight was part of the Panjut (oil lamp) Festival, a unique tradition in Padang Rengas, held every year since 2014.

The creation of the majestic structures, mainly depicting buildings and themes such as Selamat Hari Raya, and Malaysian culture, dates back to the 1970s. 

It was revived in 2014, thanks to the festival, organised by the Padang Rengas parliamentary constituency sports and community recreation club.

Project director Mohd Ariff Abdul Majid said that in the 1970s and 1980s, the structures would be displayed along Jalan Kota Lama Kiri, attracting fascinated villagers from the surrounding areas.

“The club brought back this festival as a way to revive those memories, as we were all children in those years,” he told Sunday Mail.

“Some of these structures were built by 40 people, including the young and old, from each village. You can imagine how united they are, and this togetherness is what we want to promote in the community.” 

A ‘panjut’ based on the theme ‘Selamat Hari Raya’ put up by residents of Kampung Changkat Gohor.
A ‘panjut’ based on the theme ‘Selamat Hari Raya’ put up by residents of Kampung Changkat Gohor.

A competition held in conjunction with this year’s festival attracted entries from 39 villages from the Padang Rengas parliamentary constituency.

There are five design themes — Selamat Hari Raya, Historical Buildings, Negaraku, Malaysian Culture, and Visit Perak Year 2017.

The rules are simple: Structures must have a minimum of 500 lamps and measure at least 4.5m high and 9m wide.

The structures must be constructed from natural items like bamboo and wood.  

The champions will walk away with RM3,500, runners-up RM2,000, third RM1,000, fourth RM500, and fifth RM300.

They will receive their prizes from none other than  Padang Rengas MP and Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz during a Hari Raya gathering on July 1.

Last year’s winning entry — a replica of Kuala Kangsar’s iconic Ubudiah mosque — was put up by Kampung Ribu.

Fireworks light up the skies over a ‘panjut’ depicting a clock tower.
Fireworks light up the skies over a ‘panjut’ depicting a clock tower.

This year’s entries include structures resembling the Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers, Sultan Abdul Samad building, Kuala Kangsar clock tower, and a traditional Hari Raya Aidilfitri scene. 

Mohd Ariff said promotion of the festival had been carried out through traditional and social media since the first week of Ramadan.

More than  5,000 visitors, including foreign students from local universities, attended the festival on Friday. 

“We also have a separate Instagram competition to find the best ‘Insta’ pictures of the festival,” said Mohd Ariff.

“Users need only attach the hashtag ‘panjut’ to be in the running for prizes 
of RM300 (1st), RM200 (2nd), and RM100 (3rd).”

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