Malaysia Country Guide

Festivals

 
 

One of the significant characteristics of Malaysian culture is its celebration of various festivals and events. The year is filled with colorful, exhilarating and exciting activities. Some are religious and solemn but others are joyous events. One interesting feature of the main festivals here is the "open house" custom. This is when Malaysians celebrating the festival invite friends and family to come by their homes for some traditional delicacies and fellowship.

 
 
 
 
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Muslim Festivals
During the 30 days of Ramadan, devout Muslims refrain from passing anything through their lips (food, drink, smoke) between sunrise and sunset.
The upside for foreign travelers are the Ramadan bazaars in the cities and towns, bustling with activity and seams of great food. At the end of the month is the festival of "Eid ul-Fitr" or known locally as "Hari Raya Aidilfitri", when many locals take one to two weeks off to return to their home towns or villages to be with family. Accordingly, this is the one of the many times in a year when major cities like Kuala Lumpur has virtually no traffic congestion. Another important festival is the Muslim festival of Eid ul-Adha, known locally as "Hari Raya Aidiladha".

Malaysian village life
Hari Raya celebration in the village

Chinese Festivals
During the Chinese (Lunar) New Year, Penang and Ipoh become the major cities as many local Chinese working and living in Kuala Lumpur originate from these areas. However this situation is gradually
changing, as more and more people are making Kuala Lumpur their hometown. The Chinese New Year is the most important festival for the Chinese community in Malaysia featuring the traditional lion dance and fireworks. A family reunion dinner is held on the eve of New York while during the New Year, guests are entertained to plenty of food.

Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur
Chinese New Year decorations
Hindu Festivals
Deepavali is celebrated in October or November by Malaysia's Indian (Hindu) community. Deepavali is the festival of light and is the main celebration amongst Hindus in Malaysia. In Malaysia, locals practice this tradition by wearing new clothes and receiving token gifts of money. Thaipusam is another Hindu festival that falls on January or February. The largest event of Thaipusam is the procession at Batu Caves, north of Kuala Lumpur. Devotees carry decorated altars or kavadi up a flight of 272 steps towards the temple, all this while also having religious spears and hooks pierced through external surfaces of their bodies.

Festivals in East Malaysia
Some uniquely Malaysian festivals of note include the harvest festivals (
thanksgiving celebrations) held in East Malaysia. The harvest festivals include "Pesta Keamatan" celebrated by the Kadazan community in May in the state of Sabah and "Pesta Gawai" celebrated by the Ibans in June in Sarawak. Like all major festivals in Malaysia, the two harvest festivals feature the typical Malaysia custom of "open house" and plenty of foods.

 
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