Malaysia certainly has many colors which make it appear lively and vibrant, each time you take a look. Perhaps it is the only place in the world with numerous religious holidays on its calendar. For the maximum religious festivals, it observes an open-door policy in which people invite friends and relatives regardless of their faith. The multi-ethnic and multi-religious facets of the country are best seen in the celebration of various festivals that are observed with whole-hearted festivities. Malaysian festivals are generally celebrated nationwide, but sometimes, they are observed at state level. Nearly all religious festivals are celebrated according to the lunar calendar, so the dates get changed every year. Given below are the major festivals commemorated in Malaysia.
Chinese New Year
Amongst the Chinese, the Chinese New Year is the most important annual
festival which is observed with many rituals and customs. Lasts for
complete 2 weeks, Chinese New Year is celebrated with high spirits in
Malaysia too. It is celebrated according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar
that was invented around 300 BC.
Hari Raya Puasa
Essentially a Malay term for Eid-ul-fitr, Hari Raya Puasa literally
means "Celebration Day of Fasting". This joyous occasion falls
on the 1st day of Syawal, the Muslim month. Also called Hari Raya
Aidilfitri, it marks the successful completion of fasting during
Ramadhan - the ninth month of Islamic Calendar.
Celebrated largely by the Tamil population, Thaipusam is an important
Hindu festival. Like other festivals, Thaipusam too, is celebrated with
zeal and fervor in Malaysia. Observed on the full moon of Tamil month -
Thai (Jan/Feb), it is marked as a day for penance and atonement among
Signifying the triumph of good over evil, Deepawali is the major
festival of the Hindus. People light oil-lamps in their houses to mark
the occasion. On the festival eve, people perform rituals and prayers at
their homes and temples. Along with all this, different delicacies are
made at homes. In Malaysia, people observe the event by open-house
invitations to friends and relatives.
Tadau Kaamatan (Harvest Festival)
In Sabah, the aboriginal tribes of Kadazan, Dusun and Murut commemorate
their harvest festival in May. At the occasion, offerings are made to
the spirit of paddy, Bambaazon. Tapai (rice wine) is liberally consumed
throughout the event. Partying usually involves agricultural shows,
exhibitions, cultural programs, buffalo races and other customary games.
Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, is observed by Christians in
Malaysia. In the typical style, homes are adorned with decorations,
colored lights accompanied by the Christmas tree. Amongst the
youngsters, caroling starts days before the big day to usher in the
Yuletide spirit. Like other festivals, 'open-house' is observed on the
Hungry Ghost Festival
Hungry Ghost Festival is said to be the day when the gates of hell gets
open to release the hungry ghosts, according to the Chinese belief. It
is observed on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month by the Buddhists
and the Taoists. On this day, people remember their deceased family
members and make offerings to ward off bad luck.
Lantern & Mooncake Festival (Tang Lung)
Lantern and Mooncake Festival is celebrated by the Chinese throughout
Malaysia. Signifies celebration of peace and shared prosperity, the
event is marked by lighting of lanterns and enjoying the scrumptious
variety of mooncakes. All over the country, these cakes are available as
round pastries usually filled with a mixture of sweet red bean paste or
lotus nut paste.
Celebrated by Tamils, Thaiponggol is a harvest festival that falls
somewhere in the second week of January. On this day, farmers get up
early in the morning and cook the newly harvested grain to offer the
meal to the sun. In urban families, scenario is a bit changed and
involves rising, bathing and getting dressed up before dawn. Then lamps
are lit and offerings are made to the God.
National Water Festival
Water is of great importance in Malaysian culture, where it serves as a
communication system and an economic resource representing the early
settlement. With a message of protection and utilization, National Water
Festival is celebrated in Malaysia. Tapai, an alcoholic drink made of
rice wine, is liberally served on the occasion.
Observed by the Buddhists, Wesak Day commemorates the three big events
of Buddha's life - Birthday, Enlightenment and Achievement of Nirvana.
On the day, devotees assemble at the temples to meditate on the eight
precepts of Buddha. Wesak Day falls in May and donations, prayers and
chanting make the special part of the occasion.