The performing arts is a colourful way in which Malaysians of various races and cultures preserve their rich heritage. The richness and unity prevailing in multi racial Malaysia is portrayed to the world with touches of Malay, Chinese and Indian culture as well as the varied cultures evident among the ethnic groups of Sabah and Sarawak. Culture is an essential component in fashioning our nation for the future.
Previous issues of the Malaysian Festivals
The Gawai festival is celebrated on 1 June in Sarawak. Preparations for the festival begin early with brewing of tuak (rice wine) and traditional delicacies like Penganan. During the festival held in the longhouse, you will witness an intriguing dance around the bountiful tree known as the “ranyai”. Food and drinks are hung on it and visitors are invited to dance around the tree, select and retrieve a food item.
Kaamatan is a Kadazan-Dusin term for “harvest” and is celebrated during the month of May.
It is celebrated by the Kadazan-Dusuns ethnic, as well as by other ethnic groups in Sabah. The Kaamatan festival is a joyous occasion for friends and family when everyone makes time to get together as well to partake in traditional activities such as dance and music, traditional sports and games, and the grand Unduk Ngadau-Harvest Festival Queen or better known as Miss Kaamatan.
Hari Raya Aidilfitri
Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Eid a-Fitr is an important religious Islamic holiday celebrated by Muslims in Malaysia and around the world that marks the end of Ramadan. In the rural areas, pelita are lit up and placed outside and around homes. Special dishes like ketupat, rendang, lemang and other Malay delicacies such as various kuih-muih are served during this day. It is common to greet people with “Salam Aidilfitri” or “Selamat Hari Raya”.
Tahun Baharu Cina
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is the first day of the New Year in the Chinese calendar. It is celebrated for 15 days by the Chinese community. The highlights of the festivals includes family gatherings, open houses, traditional lion and dragon dances, fireworks displays, calligraphy and lantern decorations, and amazing food. Red packets or Ang Pau are exchanged during the festivities as a symbol of good luck and prosperity. The Chinese New Year ends on the 15th day, known as Chap Goh Mei.
Deepavali / Diwali
Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights, which is celebrated between the months of October and November every year. Small clay lamps filled with oil are lighted to signify the triumph of good over evil. Many Hindu homes will be decorated with Kolam which are patterns or designs made from colorful rice flour to welcome guests. Just like the other festivals in Malaysia.
Deepavali is a great occasion for people of all races and religions to come together to celebrate diversity over tasty food and good companionship.
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