Sep 19, 2010

Lighting Up Pelita for Lebaran

I have always been a true believer in the setting up of pelitas outside and all around the house come Hari Raya season. This was an activity that my dad and I would do together when he felt I was old enough to handle kerosene and a lighter. Pelitas add warmth to the season and are subtle reminders of the old kampung days when electricity access was limited and people relied solely on kerosene lamps for light in the dark.
Nowadays people install strings of colored light bulbs in the vicinity of their house compound for that bright festivity look, and although our house too has them, I have always been fond of pelitas in illuminating our home. This year, after so many years of abandoning the tradition, I decided to set out to look for my pelita lamps and relive the excitement.
I came across these plastic pelitas but they were in what I thought were inappropriate colors for the season: blue and red! When I was growing up,pelitas were mainly made of tin and I was so keen on getting some original tin pelitas. Not happening. Every shop I went to claimed that tin pelitas were no longer available, at least not in this part of town. That adds yet another childhood item in my list of rare finds.
In the end I settled for some green and yellowpelitas, colors which I thought represented Hari Raya well. I also bought some other things in order to get started with hanging up pelitas.
1. Minyak tanah, or kerosene oil. A 1.5 litre bottle of minyak tanah was RM3.
2. I paid RM4 for a pack of 10 pelitas. I've seen them being sold for anywhere between RM4 and RM5.50. Shop around if you plan to buy loads.
3. A trusty lighter.
4. Some galvanized wire to hang the pelitas.
To get started, I had to worm thesumbu or wick into its metal holders. This was the part of pelita hanging that I think is the toughest. I used a long wire to push the sumbu up.
My mom and dad decided to help out on this mission, which saved me a lot of time. Doing this together with your family can prove to be very fun indeed.
Once I got my wicks ready, I capped my lamps. We had twenty to work with, a number that worked well with the size of our house compound.
Dad helped out with the wires by cutting them into shorter parts. He also said he wanted his hands to taste a bit of fame on :)
Our pelitas were ready to be hung, and hang them we did. With some twisting and turning of the wires, I managed to secure the pelita onto our fence.
Unfortunately, the sky growled with thunder, indicating that it was going to rain any minute. Ramadan this year has been a very wet one in Malaysia, a very rare occurrence since Ramadan has always been notorious for its timely hot weather. To protect my wick from being soaked, I covered mypelitas in plastic and decided to wait for another night to light them up.
A few nights later, the weather looked promising. I filled up all twenty pelitas with minyak tanah and by the time I was done, I had used up almost 3/4 of the 1.5 litre bottle of minyak tanah. I filled onepelita about halfway to the brim with the kerosene oil.
I waited for a minute for the wicks to seep up some of the oil before lighting them up with my lighter. They will lick up your lighter flame much faster if you do it this way.
And here we go a-blazin'! Stand back! If the wicks have soaked up enough kerosene, it's normal to see them flare up like this. Don't get your face or hair too close when you're firing the lamps.
Here are about 10 of our lovely pelitas, all lit up with their little long flames dancing lazily away in the night. I've always loved lit-up pelitas; they make the most beautiful sight.
Of course, with the oil lamps all around the house, what better time to engage in some sparkler activity! It's bunga api time! My niece and nephew have never played with bunga api, and the great aunt that I am will show them what being a kid is all about come Hari Raya!
Since the kids were too young to light up their own sparklers, I gave them a helping hand with torching it.
Oooo...! Aaaa...! It's been eons since I've played with bunga api and my, what a welcoming scene this is! I'm not particularly fond of this type of sparkler since it's made out of paper and tends to give out more smoke than the ones that come with metal handles. But I couldn't get my favorite "Black Cat" brand bunga api, so this cheap stuff will have to do.
The kids were excited with their firstbunga api experience but also displayed a little bit of fear in holding the sparklers. Adani looks real rigid holding one!
Addin, my nephew, was a bit takut as well and ran away a few times when I tried handing him a sparkler! It'll be my utmost pleasure to tell him when he's all grown up about how he screamed like a girl in the face of his first bunga api! :) In the end he decided to show me how brave he was and confidently held on to a sparkler, with me nearby of course.
Because I didn't cover the oil lamps with plastic after putting them out, they were exposed to the rain during the night and the metal parts rusted out. :( Dad then suggested that the next time I put uppelitas, I should smear some grease onto the metal pieces so that they won't rust in damp conditions.
However you decide to decorate your house this Raya season, nothing can quite beat the beauty of this timeless classic: the

thanks fairy.mahdzan



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