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Dikir Barat is a form of singing. The origins of Dikir Barat is debatable, but most would accept it to be from Southern Thailand or Northern Peninsula Malaysia.In an agricultural society,the dikir barat was performed as a ritual or celebration of the rice harvest season.Today, dikir barat performances are mainly for entertainment but competitions between Dikir Barat groups are also held. Currently, Singapore and two states of Malaysia which are Kelantan and Terengganu are perhaps places where Dikir Barat is still performed actively on many levels.
Dikir Barat was known to have been brought down from Southern Thailand. The Malaysians called it "Dikir" which has the same sound as the malay word "zikir" which means prayers or rituals, something the Northern Malaysians see the Thais doing every rice harvest season. "Barat" means west, which is where the Northern Malaysians then view the geographical location of Thailand. Geographically, however, Thailand is to the north of Malaysia. However, as the name has been ingrained, it was never changed.
Dikir Barat was then brought further down south to Singapore in the 1970's. Various competitions are organised by governing bodies each year and the turnout for each competition is good till this very day, despite Singapore being a metropolitan and modern city.
Much research has been done to find the real history of Dikir barat in Malaysia.
According to historical sources, Dikir Barat is based on a dance called "Tarian Patung Inai" that was very popular among Siam and Kelantan Society around 1800 to 1940. Then Pak Leh Tapang (Hj. Salleh) changes it to Dikir Barat.
Tarian Patung Inai is a traditional dance that is presented in a wedding ceremony where a leader (Tok Jogha) sings a song and then followed in unison by other members in the Dikir Barat group. The music of Dikir Barat follows the rhythm of "rebab" or "rebana Sunda". This activity has been a must when a wedding ceremony was held in Malay villages.
Dikir Barat is also connected with "Dikir Laba" or better known as "Dikir Punjab". "Dikir Punjab" is a play in Punjab language (Hindustan) or in Arabic language and has a very close connection with "Qawwali". "Qawwali" is a very popular culture among Indian. In Dikir Laba, the members of the group will sing a song and try to follow the rhythms by moving their body. They must raise their voice very high.
No matter what kind the dikir it is, Tok Jogho has a very big responsibility to make the song alive.
In year 1948, Pak Leh Tapang changed the way Patung Inai is played by adopting some of the elements from Dikir Laba and Dikir Punjab. The word "Barat (west)" is derived from the nickname given by the Kelantanese to the Siamese society. Although there are some who theorise that "Barat" comes from the word "Bharat" the old name given to the Indian sub-continent. This makes sense when taken in context of "Dikir Punjab".
Sejenis nyayian yang terkenal dinegeri Kelantan. Nyanyiannya diringan dengan pukulan rebana. Merupakan kebudayaan yang agak baru dipopularkan. Dinyanyikan secara beramai-ramai dalam bentuk pantun. Seorang ketua yang dikenali sebagai tukang dikir atau tukang karut akan memulai nyanyian yang akan diulang oleh pengiring secara beramai-ramai.