The New Moon and Kueh Mur

Last night I received a few cynical sms implying something along the lines why we cannot see the new moon last night was because our equipment was faulty. That is indeed far from the truth. The equipment we had last night provided by the Survey Department was state of the art. The equipment even had automatic tracking, it knew where the new moon should be. But the clouds were in the way.

In fact when we left the house to go to Bukit Shahbandar, my driver was commenting on the cloudy condition. I was hoping that by the time we got to Bukit Shahbandar, the clouds would have dispersed. But I was wrong. It was still cloudy when we got there and even when the sun had gone down, it was a futile exercise. The new moon was up for more than 40 minutes but even with the aid of the latest instruments, we could not sight it.

There was hope when we received calls that someone in Tutong thought he had sighted it. But even if he did, the ground rules were, two people must sight it. So that one does not count. But it did add to the drama while waiting for the official confirmation. In the end, it was declared that the new moon was unsighted and as a result, today you are still in the office reading this entry. But it does give everyone an opportunity to do an extra day of shopping. It gave me and my wife extra Terawih prayers last night. It gave us more time to prepare for the Hari Raya on Thursday. And for the real procastinators, an extra day to pay your zakat.

Yesterday, I was accompanying my minister making his rounds to wish all the officers and staff Selamat Hari Raya. My minister is a great story teller and I am always amazed of the amount of information that I got of him from his stories. In fact some of my articles are based on this gold mine of information. Anyway he was telling us a story about when 'kueh mur' started in Brunei. Do you know when?

He said that he was a boy at that time and he remembered that year he listened to a song from a movie. He heard that song recently and the announcer said that the song came from a 1954 Malay movie. So that was the year kueh mur was introduced to Brunei. Intuitively that sounded like the right year. Brunei as well as all countries around the region had just survived the second world war. In the late 40s, just after World War II, everything was in short supply including supplies of flour and sugar the two most important ingredients of kueh mur. It was the 1950s when everything become available again and there was time to experiment with new food.

I tried to find out the origin of keuh mur. No luck so far. There was a blog which said that most likely this kueh mur was originally Portuguese. It could be. Whatever it is, kueh mur is certainly delicious for the coming Hari Raya on Thursday. Happy Fasting and Selamat Hari Raya.


Reedz said…
Great seeing you last night bro. It was my first time attending a moon sighting and I must say, apart from the arduous climb up those rickety steps (which I discovered later was unnecessary since the road actually led up to the top!) it was a fascinating experience. More about it in my post later :)
Al-Qadr said…
Interesting reactions from all quarters of life in Brunei on why we have to celebrate Hari Raya tomorrow, BRo. As in anything and everything which happens, the simplest explanation comes down to the Will of the Almighty - no doubt about that, BRo.

What we normally say in Malay: "Tiada daya dan tiada upaya melainkan dengan kekuasaan Allah jua (Walahawla wala quwwatta illa billah...)". Cynicism is uncalled for in this situation, I would say.

Speaking of Kueh Mur, the single most memorable and unforgettable thing about Aidil Fitri for me personally was at age 3 or 4, I woke up in the middle of the night and craved for the sweet li'l melt in the mouth goodie. Everyone was fast asleep then so off I sneaked into the living room where my mother kept the only few pieces left on the coffee table and ate about three. The next morning Mama wondered who could have eaten some of the kueh Mur! Boy, Kueh Mur never tasted as good as those.. ;)

In Singapore, they have a type of biscuit called Kueh Makmur but totally different from Kueh Mur.

Could the name Mur have been borrowed from the English word 'more'?! My hypothesis: They had been served to Orang Putih in the good old days and the Mat Salleh loved 'em so much so that they asked for more. Got stuck with the Malay pronunciation: Mor or Mur?
I remember the song 'blame it on the rain' hehe.
But seriously all of our muslim friends here in england were quite surprised when we told them Brunei would celebrate Raya only on Thursday! Everyone remarked the 2 or 3 days arrear, which to some were quite incomprehensible. They were in fact quite worried that the Brunei muslims were fasting on the first day of Shawal, which of course, would be haraam.
Apapun, Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri to everyone!

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