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Amongst all the festivals and celebrations marked in the Malaysian calendar, the 5 Most Significant Festivals in Malaysia are the most embraced by the people as a whole and nationwide.
Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (Eidul Fitr)
More than half of the country’s population is the ethnic Malay who follow Islam. The most important celebration for Muslims is Eidul Fitr or Hari Raya Aidil Fitri. Hari Raya marks the end of the month of Ramadhan in the Islamic lunar calendar year, It is a two days nationwide holiday, therefore the majority of families would travel back to their hometowns to celebrate with their extended families.
It is a cultural norm for some families to host ‘Rumah terbuka’ or open house where they welcome neighbours and nearby community to visit their home to celebrate together. The once-a-year opportunity to meet as a whole and enjoy food such as ketupat, lemang, rendang, cookies and a lot more.
Chinese New Year
The Chinese New Year traditionally is a 15-day long celebration and formally t is given two day nationwide holiday. The time when most major cities in Malaysia were decorated with red lanterns and decorations which is believed in the age-old Chinese tradition to ward off evil spirits and bring abundant prosperity and good luck. The big get-togethers on the first two days would also for some, with lion dance shows, lighting fireworks and visiting relative houses throughout the festive period.
Deepavali’s Festival of Lights signifies the victory of light and hope over darkness. The time when the Indian Hindu ethnic decorated their homes with coloured rice with patterns and temples decorated with lit lanterns. The day starts off with taking a bath with oil and praying. Later during the day processions, street fairs, fireworks, and get-togethers take place. It is the aromas of a variety of dishes lingering across the streets one trait that truly symbolises the festivities of Deepavali in the areas where there is an Indian community.
Like any other festival, Deepavali is not without its pomp. In the lead-up to Deepavali and during the festive period itself, beautiful and intricate traditional rangoli artworks are made as both a decoration and a symbol of good luck. It is also during this time that the houses and streets of Malaysia are adorned with colourful lights and oil lamps.
Celebrated every year in May, Wesak Day is a Buddhist festival that celebrates the birth, enlightenment and nirvana of Lord Buddha. Throughout the country, Buddhists begin celebrations at dawn; where they gather at temples to pray, meditate and offer food to the poor. The celebration also includes a grand parade that usually features a giant statue of Buddha.
If there is a testament to Malaysia’s multicultural identity it is Christmas. Though it is estimated that only 9 per cent of the population is Christian – and Islam is the state religion – Malaysia also celebrates Christmas as a national holiday.
It is not uncommon for Christian communities to host Christmas parties and carolling where the community is invited to join in the festivities regardless of race or creed. Not forgetting the contemporary appeal of Christmas, the lead-up to Christmas is usually accompanied by Christmas jingles being played amongst the backdrop of grand Christmas decorations in many of the nation’s shopping malls as to draw in consumers for a year-end sale.