Hari Raya Aidilfitri
After a month of fasting during the month of ramadan, muslims
celebrate the first day of syawal which is the tenth month of the
muslim calendar with joyous enthusiasm. This is a major festival
for muslims and they usher in the day with prayers in mosques and
remembering their departed loved ones. It is also the time for
family reunion when members of the family from different parts of
the country get together. Special festival dishes are served for
Festivals and friends during "open house". The festival mood is
reflected is brightly decorated homes, government and commercial
buildings. Homes are also lit with all lamps at the entrance in
keeping with a long established tradition.
Chinese New Year
This is the most important festival of the chinese community and it
lasts for a full two weeks! it begins with a reunion dinner which
is traditional for every member of the family to attend. Chinese
New Year is the time when spirits are appeared and offerings are
made to gods. It is a boisterous festival with the clang of cymbals
accompanying lion dances and the thunder of firecrackles filling
the air. Guests are entertained to a variety of sumptuous food and
drinks and the unmarried youngsters are given ang pows - gifts of
money enclosed in little red packets. Major hotels and shopping
complexes celebrate the occasion by holding lion dances and special
chinese programmers to entertain their clients.
Chap Goh Mei
Chap Goh Mei is a hokkien term for the 15th night of the new year.
The day is celebrated with a big bang. On this day, firecrakers are
let off and the din fills the air throughout the night.
It is a day for
prayers and offerings signifying the end of Chinese New Year
celebratings. This grand finale sees many unmarried women being
encouraged to throw tangerines into the sea in the hope that they
will marry good husbands. Houses are brightly decorated with fairy
At Reservoir Park, Kuching, various Chinese cultural shows are
performed which include lantern and lion dance
In malaysia, Thaiponggol is a Harvest Festival celebrated out of
season because it is fixed in the hindu calendar. Tamils celebrate
this festival around the second week of january. While it is still
dark, farmers rise and cook some of the newly harvested grain.
Ponggol is the presentation of the cooked harvested grain to the
sun at dawn. The sun god, on whom the crops depend so much, is
worshipped. Prayers are also conducted in the temple and in the
home on a small scale.
However, for urban families, this ritual has been
adapted to their own living conditions. Here the family rises,
bathes and gets dressed before dawn. This is done without the use
of any form of light. When everyone is ready, wearing their best
clothes, they assemble around a display of fruits and flowers. Only
then are lamps lit. The vision of natural beauty must be the first
sight in the morning. On the rising of dawn, a vegetarian breakfast
is enjoyed by all members of the family.
| Hari Raya Aidiladha
Hari Raya Haji or Aidiladha is celebrated towards the end of the
haj pilgrimage. Performing the haj, which is the fifth pillar of
Islam is obligatory for Muslims who are affluent. In Malaysia and
other Muslim countries throughout the world, the rationale of this
festival is to rejoice and remind the individual of the revelation
and sacrifices of Prophet Abraham.
Goat or cattle are slaughtered as animal sacrifice.
It is a symbolic gesture depicting to the story of Prophet Abraham
sacrificing his son, Ishmael as an act of loyalty to Allah. The
meat from these sacrificed animals is distributed to the poor. Most
of the day is celebrated with prayers at mosques.
Also known as maal hijrah, Awal Muharram is the start of the
islamic new year. This day coincides with the prophet muhammad's
journey from mecca to medina in 622 ad on the first of muharram by
attending religious talks and nasyid (spiritual singing)
National Water Festival
Water resource plays an important role in the socio-cultural and
economic development of the Malaysian society. Apart from
functioning as a communication system, an economic, resource and
determinant of early settlement pattern of the Malaysian society,
it had also been a place where families carried out their
recreational activities in the past. Therefore, water resource in
whatever form should be protected, valued and utilised to the
For that purpose, Water Festival Month Programme is
instituted with the intention of re-enacting the variety of events
of yesteryears and to utilise the beauty and uniqueness of the
natural environment of the country as one of the tourism
attractions for domestic as well as international market, and to
instill the appreciation towards water. This programme will be
carried out for a period of one-month starting from 14 April-13 May
2001 with packaging of all activities based on water resources
throughout the country.
Wesak is a Buddhist festival. It is the most important of all
Buddhist celebrations. It is a day of prayers, offerings, chanting
The festival highlights the three sinificiant events
in the life of Lord Buddha. They are ; his birthday, his
enlightenments and the achievement of Nirvana. On this day,
Buddhist devotees attend services in temples throughout the
country. Talks on Buddhism are also given to the disciples of
In the state of malacca, a galastyle
procession, complete with decorated floats, marching bands and
acrobatic ats pass through the streets at night. Unlike most other
malaysian Festivals, wesak is celebrated on a spiritual note, minus
the loud feasting and merrymaking.
| Harvest Festival
The kadazans of Sabah celebrate their Harvest Festival in a grand
scale as rice is not a staple food to them, but also a symbol of
reverence in their many traditional and ritual practices.
However, the festival is not just celebrated as a
solemn and spiritual exercise but with great pomp and festive
merry-making. The fun gets merrier with the drinking of the
inevitable tapai which is an alcoholic drink made from rice wine.
Apart from these, there are also organised agriculture shows,
buffalo races, cultural perfomances and traditional games as part
and parcel of the festive celebrations.
| Gawai Dayak
The Gawai Dayak festival is celebrated by the dayaks of Sarawak who
live in longhouses. Being one of the major Festivals of the
community, it is celebrated on a grand scale and lasts for a week.
The Gawai Dayak festival marks the transitional period between the
season of rice harvesting and the new planting season.
Hence, it is a reason of thanksgiving for the
bountiful harvest and also a time to rest from work before the new
planting season. Preparations for the festival include the sprucing
up of the longhouse, clearing the gravesites of ancestors and the
preparation of rice wine and lemang (glutimous rice). During the
festival week, the Dayaks dress in their traditional costumes. The
sound of boisterous laughter, convival talk, drinking, dancing and
merry-making will echo relentlesstly all through the days of this
exotic and colourful festival.
Falling in late january or early february as determined by the
hindu calendar, Thaipusam is a celebration of the birthday of lord
subramaniam, also known as lord muruga. On the eve of Thaipusam, a
statue of lord subramaniam is taken for a procession on a chariot
drawn by bullocks.
The next day, devotees carrying kavadis throng hindu
temples amidst chanting and drumming. A kavadi is either a metal or
wooden arch with elaborate decorations, which is placed on the
devotee's shoulder. Hooks of spikes extend from the kavadi to
various parts of the devotee's body. Thaipusam is celebrated on a
big scale in the States of Selangor, pulau pinang, Negeri Sembilan
Penang International Dragon Boat
The Penang's first Dragon Boat Race was held in 1956 to celebrate
the 100th Anniversary of the Municipality of George Town. 10 years
later the race was revived as part of the Pesta Pulau Pinang. The
Pesta races was originally confined to participation from the local
teams such as teams from Government Department, associations and
commercial establishments. However, in 1979, the boat festival
became an international tourism carnival with 2 participation from
overseas, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The Penang International Dragon Boat Festival has
participating teams all over the world include australia, new
zealand, denmark, norway, macau, thailand, japan, britain, west
germany, usa and others.
Chinese Rice Dumpling Festival
Chung or Chinese Rice Dumpling Festival is celebrated by the
chinese which falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. The
Chung festival is celebrated in remembrance of chinese scholar and
poet ci yuan. According to the legend, he committed suicide in
protest against the emperor's oppression of the people. He then,
tied a slab of stone to himself and jumped into the river.
Dumplings are stuffed with meat, mushroom, egg yolk,
dried prawn and chestnuts or beans wrapped in bamboo leaves.
| Prophet Muhammad's Birthday
Prophet Muhammad was born in 571 A.D. All over the Muslim world the
Prophet's birthday is celebrated on a large scale. However, the
festival is not celebrated with merriment and feasting but rather
on a solemn note and a spiritual tone. Verses from the Holy Quran
are recited. It is a day of obligation for Muslims to worship at
the mosques, attend sermons and to partake in religious
discussions, procession, and lectures as in the festival of Maal
| Merdeka 31st August
On the 31st of August 1957, Malaysia gained its independence from
British rule. Annually on this day the nation's citizens celebrate
Merdeka (which means independence). Merdeka Day celebrations in
Malaysia is participated by one and all, the old and the young,
with the great sense of patriotism to the king and the country. It
is a gala affair, filled with pomp and pageantry.
Grand celebrations are held all over the nation,
marked by parades, processions, stage performances, competitions
and fascinating fireworks display. In Kuala Lumpur, where the major
events of the celebrations take place, the Merdeka Square becomes
the focal point where the various races, corporate citizens,
government bodies and other communities joins hands with the King,
the Prime Minister and his Cabinet members in a show of solidarity
and national unity.
| Hungry Ghost Festival
This festival is celebrated by Buddhists and Taoists on the 15th
day of the seventh lunar month. It is believed that the Gates of
Hell are opened on this day and all the hungry imprisoned spirits
rush out in search of food. There are many tales associated with
the festival but perhaps the most Interesting is the story of
forbidden love. Legend has it that two childhood sweethearts
forbidden to marry by their parents ended their lives by jumping
from a Bridge.
Several days later, the search party found a single
talk of lotus bearing twin flowers growing under the bridge. Today,
the festival is celebrated day by holding religious ceromonies at
homes, temples. Associations and guilds. Prayers are offered to
dead and offerings of food such of chickens, vegetables, fruits,
beancurd and white rice are placed at street corners and roadsides
for the spirits. The chinese believe that this will prevent
wandering spirits from entering their homes and cause disturbance
in their households.
| Lantern Festival
This festival celebrates the victory of the Chinese in bringing
about the demise of the Mongol overlords during the Yuan dynasty.In
falls on the 15th day of the eight lunar month, about two weeks
before or after 23 September-when the moon ia atits brightest.When
planning the revolution, mooncakes were used as a means of
communication. In them were messages from their general, telling
them of his plans.
Lanterns were used to signal the start of the revolution. At the
agreed date, the Hans launched the revolution which took the
Monggols by surprise. Till today, mooncakes and lanterns symbolise
Mooncakes are circular-shaped pastry with rice
fillings of lotus seed paste, sweet red beanpuree and egg yolks.
Another storey related to the festival comes from the Hsia dynasty.
It tells of a tyrannical King who discovered an elixir for
The King's kind-hearted and beautiful wife, stole this
elixir to prevent further sufferings to the people. When the King
discovered that his wife was responsible for the theft, she
swallowed the elixir and fled to the moon. Cakes were made in
recognition of her kindness and sacrifice.
Night celebrations are marked by the Chinese
community in colourful parades as children carry lanterns of every
shape and size. Friends and families exchange mooncakes and other
| Nine Emperor Gods Festival
The Festival of the Nine Emperor Gods falls on the ninth day of the
ninth moon in the Chinese lunar calendar. Devotees flock to the
temples throughout the country for this religious festival. The
Nine Emperor Gods are part of a spirit-medium cult known locally as
‘Jieu Hwang Yeh’. These Nine Deities are believed to
dwell in the stars in heaven under the reign of ‘Thien
Hou’ - the Queen of Heaven.
On the eve of the ninth moon, temples of the Deities hold a
ceremony to invoke and welcome the ‘Jien Hwang Yeh’.
Since the arrival of the Nine Emperor Gods is believed to be
through the waterways, processions are held from temples to the
sea-shore or river to symbolise this belief. Devotees dressed in
traditional white, carrying joss-sticks and candles, await the
arrival of their “Excellencies”.A carnival-like
atmosphere pervades the temple throughout the nine-day festival.
During this period of time, the constant tinkling of a prayer bell
and chants from the temple priests are heard. Most devotees stay at
the temple, take vegetarian meals and recite continuous chanting of
prayer. A procession to send the Nine Emperor Gods home then takes
place to complete the rites of this religious festival.
This is a hindu festival of light. Homes of hindus are lit with
little lights to signify the victory over darkness for the hindus
believe that this is the day when the forces of good overcame the
forces of evil. Deepavali is a major festival of the hindus and on
the eve prayers are held both at home and in the temples.hindus
take a traditional oil bath in the early hours of the morning on
Deepavali day and after prayers entertain their friends and guests
to "open house".
A key doctrine in christian theology is the resurrection of jesus
christ. Easter Sunday is observed as the day christ was
resurrected. Prior to easter, christians observe what is known as
‘the holy week’.the holy week commences with the
service of palm sunday. Palm sunday literally means a sunday
service where everybody is given a blessed palm leaf or a cross of
palm leaves. The continuance of the holy week is observed on
thursday evening known as maundy thursday. Maundy thursday is when
jesus ate his last supper with his disciples before he was
Jesus was betrayed and arrested at Gethsemane where
he had gone to pray after the Last Supper. On that Friday morning,
Jesus was crucified and died in the afternoon on the same day. This
special day is known to the world as Good Friday as it commemorates
Christ's sufferings and his death. Jesus had told his disciples
that he would be raised from the dead on the third day of his
death. On Friday, the day of his death, he was buried and on
Saturday, the second day nothing had happened. But, on Sunday, the
third day his tomb was empty signifying his resurrection.
The birth of christ is celebrated by christians in malaysia in the
true traditional style. Most christians homes are decorated with
festoon and coloured lights and the Christmas tree is a must! young
christians go carolling days before Christmas day to usher in the
yuletide spirit. Churches hold midnight masses on the eve of
Christmas. The festival is celebrated on a national scale in
malaysiaand christians hold "open house" to entertain their friends
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