THE FIRING of meriam buluh or bamboo cannons has long been a tradition associated with Hari Raya in Malaysia, especially in rural areas.
These days, while the authorities discourage the practice due to safety issues, the firing of bamboo cannons still takes place in some places.
The villages in the Talang area of Perak would be one of those places.
The villages of Talang Masjid, Talang Changkat, Talang Hulu, Talang Tengah and Talang Hilir have elevated the tradition to whole new level with what they call Meriam Talang or Talang Cannons.

These 20ft metal monsters are a long way away from the traditional bamboo cannons of old.

Because they made of metal, the explosion of sound they make are far louder than traditional bamboo cannons.
The cost of the carbide used in the cannons can cost thousands of ringgit.
Now imagine 72 cannons firing simultaneously from six different locations.

The whole area sounds and looks a little like an artillery firing range on the eve of Hari Raya with villagers arranging multiple cannons in batteries.
Each team has a commander to lead the cannon handlers. The teams use kilos of calcium carbide to load the cannons for each firing.
The activity only takes place during the night of the eve of Hari Raya and the main objective of the whole event is to challenge the neighbouring villages on who has the loudest cannons.
Each cannon is handled by two to three people who take turns to fire the cannons on the instructions of the team leader.
The team leader’s job is to decide when and how many cannons to fire.

Talang Hulu village head Ahmad Nadzri Abd Shukor said the tradition started some 100 years ago, but the people then only used bamboo cannons, sometimes strengthened with clay.
A villager refilling the cannon with carbide.
A villager refilling the cannon with carbide.
“The festival has evolved. From bamboo and clay, we started using metal. Some of us took the metal pipes from abandoned tin dredges. Some of these metal cannons are more than 30 years old. If we think it’s safe, we take it. So far, there has been no untoward incidents because we make sure it’s safe to use,” Ahmad Nadzri said.

Villagers and companies contribute to purchase the large amounts of calcium carbide used to fire the cannons.
“The carbide costs thousands of ringgit, but the people here are willing to contribute because it happens once a year only. This is the only place that has all this.
“People from all over the country come to witness it. Some of them come every year.”
He said many youngsters from Talang who work in cities will come back just for the festival and start the collection to buy the carbide.
“They are the ones who continue this tradition. That’s part of the excitement. Some come back because of the cannons only. They are allowed to fire them from 11.30pm until 5.30am.
Decorative oil lamps called panjut add to the festive mood in Kampung Lintang Hilir during the firing of the cannons.
Decorative oil lamps called panjut add to the festive mood in Kampung Lintang Hilir during the firing of the cannons.
“We make sure they go for their morning prayers, but even after prayers, they will go on till 7am,” he said.

Amir Ehzan Mohd Shahiry, 29, a leader of one of the cannon batteries said he has been doing it for years and he never felt afraid of firing the cannons.
“My grandfather and father used to handle these cannons and now, it’s my turn to take over. It’s a village tradition. We are here to have fun and work as a team to make the loudest noise,” he said.
Amir Ehzan said they prepare the carbide and cannons two weeks before Hari Raya and after the festival put them away until the next year.
This tradition looks set to continue as Amir Ehzan said children as young as 12 are able to handle the cannons and they have vowed to continue the tradition.
“You can only find this in Talang and we intend to continue this for a very long time.
“Foreigners have watched this before and they love it. It’s an attraction for many people when they come to Kuala Kangsar for Hari Raya,” he said.

Nan Zam Talang's photo.Nan Zam Talang's photo.

 copy paste dari kawan kampong Nan Zam Talang