Monday, March 09, 2009

Maulidur Rasul in Brunei

Today is Maulidur Rasul - the Birth of the Messenger. The origins of the observance can be traced back to the Fatimid dynasty in eleventh century Egypt, four centuries after the death of Muhammad as a Shia ruling class festival.

Maulidur Rasul processions to celebrate Prophet Muhammad's birthday has always been with us more or less. These photographs are of those celebrations in the 1950s to 1970s. They are more disciplined, better dressed as compared to us now in the 21st century. When I was a child, I remembered chanting the zikirs or salawat all the way. Perhaps we can learn something there.







I wrote an article about the changes in the Maulidur Rasul celebrations in Brunei Times which I will upload sometime this week to this blogsite. In the meantime, Borneo Bulletin also did a much shorter article as follows.

In the 60s, the Maulud Nabi (pbuh) celebration was held in the afternoon. People would stand around the 'Padang Besar' (the big field) now known as Taman Haji Sir Muda Omar Ali Saifuddien to listen to a religious sermon by the Chief Kadi of Religious Affairs Department.

As soon as the sermon ended, officers of the mosque would shout out the `Salawat three times to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the procession around Bandar Brunei (now Bandar Seri Begawan) would start. The procession was led by the marching band of the Royal Brunei Police Force.

The mass procession would walk along Stoney road, Kianggeh road, the road passing St George's School and SMJA, Tasek Lama road, McArthur road, Kg Sultan Lama road, Chavlier road and back to the assembly field. Throughout the procession, men and women would sing the Salawat' to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and recite the `Dikir'.

The women line-up normally came after the men. The men would be wearing their traditional 'Cara Melayu' complemented with the songkok and sinjang, whereas the women would be in their scarves and traditional `Baju Kurong' dress. The colour white would normally be worn on that auspicious day.

Slogans, written in laver (Malay words written using Arabic script) or Roman alphabets, were hand-painted onto banners of white and black. These banners were normally carried by four people as the leaders of the group.

In the 60s, people who took part in the procession comprised students from schools and colleges and Kg Ayer residents. Before the date of 12 Rabiulawal came, the Dikir could be heard from mosques, suraus and prayer halls throughout the state, praising the Prophet (pbuh) for his contributions.

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