KOTA BARU: Dikir Barat, a traditional exchange of poetry enjoyed by the Malay community in Kelantan, is enjoying a resurgence, thanks to the 13th General Election.
In line with its function as a medium to impart advice and message, the musical form is now turned into a platform to influence voters,
debate issues and rap opposition parties via songs in the Kelantanese dialect at most campaigns and ceramahs.
Both Umno and PAS use the same method, gathering dikir barat groups with the best 'tukang karut' (choir leader) and their choir members to perform.
The public is entertained because the dikir barat is accompanied by traditional musical instruments such as tambourine, maraca and gongs.
If Kelantan Umno is famous for its dikir songs 'Bo La Wei', 'Dikir Acu Test Sepenggal' and 'Dikir Datuk Fatmi', PAS is not to be left out with 'Dikir Undi PAS' and "Dikir Marilah Undi Bule" which often reverberate at campaigns in Kelantan currently.
Indirectly, it also boosts the status of dikir barat performers such as the late Zaidi Buluh Perindu, Mat Glamour, Man Khan, Cikgu Sulizi, Jali Bunga Tanjung, Jen Endoro and Eddie Hamid.
More interestingly, the dikir barat groups also adapt songs from Bollywood into the Kelantanese dialect to make political campaigns entertaining and draw large audiences.
The move to use dikir barat songs is actually to attract the young into joining the party struggle, to the extent, popular dikir barat songs are recorded, and whistled by youths.
Kota Baharu Umno is seen as excellent in its use of dikir barat for its campaign, naming it 'Promises Kept Dikir Barat Performance Tour' when it attracted 1,000 youths to its campaign early this week.
With a line-up of dikir barat artistes such as Cikgu Sulizi and Jali Bunga Tanjung, the campaign did not disappoint the young who came in droves and also sang Eddie Hamid's song, 'Bo La Wei', with Kota Baharu Umno division chief Datuk Mohd Fatmi Che Salleh.
The song relates the laments of the people of Kelantan who do not want to vote for PAS anymore, after they experienced suffering due to lack of clean water and illegal logging in Lojing, since PAS began ruling Kelantan in 1990.
Young People United Against Corruption (Ombak) president Wan Khairul Ihsan Wan Muhammad said, using songs and dikir barat performances were clearly successful in attracting youths.
He said PAS apparently, did not want to admit defeat by playing its very own dikir barat songs at party ceramahs, as unlike in the past, where Quranic verses were aired.
"They want to show they are more Islamic than Umno but at the same time, they do not want to be left behind in pursuing the support of the people," he added.
Wan Khairul Ihsan noted that at one time, PAS banned dikir barat performances, but they now admitted it was one of the weapons to attract voters.
Like at Padang Istiadat, Jeli recently, at an opposition ceramah attended by Parti Keadilan Rakyat's de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and PAS' Spiritual Leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, dikir barat songs praising the state government and hammering the opponents, were aired.
Young Malay Generation Force (Agenda) president Mohamad Zaidan Abdul Rahim said, having a dikir barat performance or playing recorded songs, could attract an audience, especially youths.
Nevertheless, he said, dikir barat songs were not a benchmark on the actual support of the people for any political party.
Zamri Abdul Wahab, 47, said he preferred dikir barat to be used.
"Often, it appears to be unsuitable when Quran recitals are aired but the content of a ceramah hits out at others. To me, the Quran should be aired at more suitable programmes and ceremonies, and in places which can unite the people," he added. - BERNAMA