KUALA BESUT, July 16 (Bernama) -- Politics takes a back seat in Kuala Besut, where a by-election is in full swing, when it comes to making the 'bubur lambuk' (a special porridge made during the Ramadan fasting month).
Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS supporters work together as they carry on the tradition of preparing the porridge.
"Some of us are BN supporters and some of us support PAS, but politics remains just on the ballot paper. We don't discuss it. We prepare the bubur lambuk together during Ramadan," said Zaharah Mamat, 50, whose house in Kampung Pantai hosts the gathering.
As early as 11 am, streams of people make their way to the kitchen of Zaharah's purple wooden house.
The women come with knives and immediately get down to the task of peeling onions, chopping vegetables, cleaning fish and pounding 'kerisik' (coconut paste).
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The men start the fire in the compound, not far from blue and green flags representing the political parties contesting in the by-election, polling for which is on July 24.
Zaharah said Kuala Besut shared the border with Kelantan, and the people there tended to use 'budu' (fish sauce) when preparing the porridge, besides mackerel, sardine, wild pepper leaves, fern shoots, lemongrass and a sweetener, among others.
"Even the colour of the porridge is different. Bubur lambuk here is dark in colour while that popular in Kuala Lumpur is white," said another resident, Rahimah Mat Yazid, 29.
The cooking ends at 3 pm, after which the compound of Zaharah's house turns into a festival ground where children stop passing cars or motorcycles to give away the porridge for free.
The porridge is not made every day. It depends on the financial capacity as it costs about RM200 to prepare 150 containers, all with contributions from the villagers.
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"When there's money, we'll cook. There are villagers who sponsor it, but we don't make the contributor known," said Zaharah.
Meanwhile, a recipient of the porridge, Lance Corporal Anwar Ridwan, 27, from the Tumpat Police headquarters, who is currently on duty in Kuala Besut for the by-election, said he was surprised when he was stopped while patrolling the village.
"I first thought there was an emergency, but then they handed me the porridge packed in a plastic container," he said.
The Kuala Besut by-election is being held following the death of assemblyman Dr A Rahman Mokhtar, 64, on June 26.
The BN is involved in a straight fight with PAS, with engineer Tengku Zaihan Che Ku Abd Rahman standing against businessman Endot alias Azlan Yusof of PAS.
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