Dozens of steel cannons have been fired by the villagers of a sleepy Malaysian hamlet for several hours late on Tuesday and early on Wednesday, carrying on a decades-old tradition celebrating the beginning of the Muslim holiday of Eid.
The Eid al-Fitr festival marks the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which Malaysians celebrate with solemn prayer, music and feasting.
This year Malaysia celebrated Eid on Wednesday, in contrast to some Muslim countries which marked the festival on Tuesday.
For decades, the villagers of Kampung Talang, some 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of Ipoh in the northern state of Perak, have greeted the holiday by the firing of homemade cannons.
In one of six sites facing a paddy field just outside the royal town of Kuala Kangsar, some 13 steel pipes repurposed as home-made howitzers aim skywards as young men stand by with flaming torches.
In many Arab countries, cannons are fired at sunset in Ramadan, signaling to believers that they can break their fast, but this is a much more spectacular event.
A bubbling mixture of calcium carbide and water was stuffed into the pipes.
Then leader Amar Ehzan Mohamad Shahiry barked an order through a loud hailer, and the torches touched a small opening, igniting the mixture which blasted into the air.
“Cannons have been fired in our village since the 1930s. If there are no cannons here, there is no Eid,” the 32-year-old village leader said.
He said the cannons fired back in the past were made of bamboo and used to frighten wild animals so that villagers would be able to celebrate Eid safely.
The tradition of greeting Eid with a bang stuck, and later generations of village cannoneers upgraded the bamboo to steel.
The ones Amar and the rest of the village’s “artillerymen” use are repurposed from sand pumping pipes, coated with anti-rust paint, and marked with football club logos and other insignia.
This year, thousands of people came to witness the firing of the village’s 80-plus cannons, which went off regularly from Tuesday night until Wednesday morning.
With the exception of two brands of crackers, most other fireworks are banned in Malaysia, with those selling or using them facing stiff penalties.
Activists have called for the stricter regulation of illegal fireworks, with some even calling for a complete ban as local reports of children injuring themselves surface every year.