Head to Kedah to celebrate our padi heritage

Head to Kedah to celebrate our padi heritage

Members of the Kuala Lumpur Han Fong Dance Troupe are set to enthral the crowd. Photos: Kedah Padi Heritage Festival 2016


The Kedah Padi Heritage (Warisan Padi Kedah) Festival 2016 will be holding a three-day carnival from Sept 15 to 17 at Ong Chuan Hin Rice Mill and Paddy Field in Jitra, Kedah. This festival will coincide with two celebrations – the Mid-Autumn Festival (Sept 15) and Malaysia Day (Sept 16).

Three months after the padi planting season, the padi field is now bathed in a sea of golden yellow. Organisers and participants will once again come together to celebrate the harvest season with a myriad of performances which includes a dance during the full moon, and cooking and eating rice together.

In May this year, 128 artists and performers celebrated the first season of the padi festival, a historic event in the country, by planting rice (with some farmers) and holding an art exhibition and performances.

“A big crowd of about 5,000 people attended the festival over two days,” says Chong Keat Aun, the festival director.

“The aim of the festival is to recognise and raise awareness of the tradition of growing padi to bring it to a higher level by incorporating community art, cultural performances, education and dissemination of information on padi culture and history to the public. It is sponsored by the Kedah Rice Millers Association and supported by Ong Chuan Hin Rice Mill in Jitra.”

This project was initiated by the late Ho Nai Kin, a former advisor with Muda Agriculture Development Authority (MADA) and cultural activist Chong Keat Aun in 2014. It took more than a year to come to fruition.

A Siamese menora dance is an interesting watch.

A Siamese menora dance is an interesting watch.

In the midst of preparation for the project, Ho passed away. Nevertheless, the organising team pressed on and successfully organised the first season of the festival from April 22 to May 1 this year.

During the festival, architect Alan Teh designed Rumah Padi, a venue for the exhibition of padi-themed artworks. He is also the art curator of the exhibition. A stage was built to hold a variety of performances.

Teh says: “The concept of Rumah Padi moved away from the traditional kampung house and adopted a modern approach in the use of container architecture coupled with bamboo structures. This concept is relevant to our times. Although it was inspired by the Rumah Angkat (Malay culture of “Moving House”), our container exhibition pavilion can also be moved to other festival sites in future.”

Here are the highlights of the festival:

Sept 15, 7pm–10pm: Warisan Full Moon Procession

A parade featuring performers and lanterns will start from SJK (C) Chung Hwa, Jitra, Kedah, to the Ong Chuan Hin Rice Mill, also in Jitra during the Mid-Autumn Festival on a full moon night.

Sept 16–17, 9am– 6pm: Warisan Padi Harvest Festival

A series of performances will kick off – every alternate hour – from 10am until 6pm.The performances will include a Chinese orchestra, puppet show, 24 season drum performance, silat, a theatre performance, jazz music, wayang kulit, kompang, Siamese menora dance, Indian dance and other dance performances.

Sept 16, 7pm: Warisan Padi Stage Night 

Multicultural show featuring performers from diverse backgrounds to celebrate Hari Malaysia.

Sept 17, 7pm: Back From Harvest, Eating Rice

A simple ceremony to celebrate the harvest season by cooking rice that was planted in May. Diners will get to enjoy nasi ulam Kedah.

Sept 17, 8.30pm: Movie Screening Night – Jagat

The movie screening will be graced by Jagat’s movie director Shanjhey Perumal.

Enquiries: 012-4758 222 (Lim) / FB: www.facebook.com/warisanpadikedah / E-mail: warisanpadi@gmail.com


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