Festivals in Malaysia reflect the roots and cultures of the various races. They are usually very exciting, colourful, and portray the spirit of unity and togetherness, despite the diversities of cultures and religions. In many ways these festivals have taken on a distinctly Malaysian flavour, as all races seem to participate in the festivities. Festivals are usually a time for family reunions and rejoicing with friends.
The following are examples of some of the more important happenings in Malaysia.
New Year's Day
Like everywhere else in the world Malaysia celebrates the New Year with fanfare and excitement, though the festivities might pale in comparison with the 'real' New Years celebrated separately by the different races.
Chinese New Year
This is the most important festival of the Chinese community and lasts for 15 days. It is the time when offerings are made to appease the spirits and gods. New clothes are bought and worn. The colour red is vividly displayed in many homes for 'prosperity' and 'luck'. Dragon dances herald the new year amid banging gongs and drums. Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
The 15th day of Chinese New Year, Chap Goh Mei, is celebrated in quite a noisy fashion, Also known as Hari Raya Puasa, it is the most significant festival for Muslims as it marks the end of the fasting month with general merry-making.
Gawai Dayak Festival
National Day is a major event - parades, concerts and various other shows at held at chosen venues every year. Merdeka Square is a good place to catch some of the action.
This Chinese festival celebrates the victory of the Chinese in bringing about the demise of the Mongol overlords during the Yuan dynasty. It is associated with mooncakes, a pastry that is eaten during this period.
Also known as Diwali, Deepavali
or the 'Festival of Lights' represents, for Hindus, the triumph of good over evil. Tiny lights fashioned from clay pots and filled with coconut oil and wicks are a common sight.
LIMA stands for the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition, a biennial event that brings together all that is high-tech in the areas of sea and air transport.
The fervour with which Christians in Malaysia celebrate this occasion is comparable to many Western countries. Elaborate decorations adorn many shopping complexes and the constant airplay of Christmas carols serve to put everyone in a festive mood and even non-Christians share in the exchange of gifts on this day.
* Events In addition to that, Malaysia regularly hosts many other exciting events such as Malaysia Fest (a month-long campaign involving cultural performances and handicraft making), food and shopping carnivals, and international sporting events, eg. the Commonwealth Games in 1998.