Festivals and Fiestas!
One of the significant characteristics of Malaysian culture is its celebration of various festivals and events. The year is filled with colourful, exhilarating and exciting activities. Some are religious and solemn but others are vibrant, joyous events. One interesting feature of the main festivals here is the ‘open house’ custom. This is when Malaysians celebrating the festival invite friends to come by their homes for some traditional delicacies and fellowship.
Festivals such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri are celebrated mostly in the villages or home towns of the urbanites. Every year, just before the festival, Muslims nationwide balik kampung or return to their home towns to meet their family and friends. These family reunions are also celebrated during other main festivals in the country. With people decked out in their traditional finery, these festivals are an integral feature of Malaysian society. Here are some of the festivals in Malaysia (dates may vary from year to year as some are based upon the lunar calendar).
o Thaipusam – January
The sights and sounds of thousands of devotees carrying kavadis, or ornate frames as penance makes this an extraordinary festival to witness at the Batu Caves in Selangor, or in Penang.
o Chinese New Year – February
The Lunar New Year is celebrated by the Chinese throughout the world and here in Malaysia it’s just as joyful with an abundance of food and family gatherings.
o Malaysia Water Festival - April to May
All over Malaysia, visitors can enjoy an entire month of water-based activities and have a splashing good time participating in a host of aquatic sports.
o Tadau Ka’amatan - 30-31 May
Thanksgiving is offered to the spirit of the padi, Bambaazon, by the KadazanDusun in Sabah. Abundant rice wine or tuak, delicious food, dancing and other festivities take place as part of the celebrations.
o Vesak – May
Religious offerings and rituals such as the ‘bathing of the Buddha’, chanting of sutras, lighting of joss sticks and ordination of monks take place in Buddhist temples around the country.
o Colours of Malaysia - May to June
This event kicks off with a colourful parade displaying the diversity of Malaysian culture through music and dance.
o Gawai - 1 – 2 June
The Ibans, Orang Ulu and Bidayuh in Sarawak celebrate this harvest festival where traditional ceremonies and dances are held in various ‘long houses’ or communal homes around the state.
o Food and Fruits Fiesta – July
This is your chance to sample the best of Malaysia’s tempting local delicacies such as satay and nasi lemak, tropical fruits and delectable desserts during this month-long fiesta.
o National Day - 31 August
Malaysians everywhere celebrate Merdeka Day or the nation’s independence on this day.
o Lantern & Mooncake Festival (Mid-Autumn) – September
This festival has come to symbolise a quiet celebration of peace and shared prosperity. Take delight in the colourful lanterns displayed during this time while enjoying the variety of mooncakes available.
o Deepavali – November
Hindus celebrate this festival of lights by adorning their homes with oil lamps, taking a ritual morning bath and offering ceremonial prayers in temples.
o Hari Raya Aidilfitri – November
The holy month of Ramadan culminates in the celebration of Han Raya Aidilfitni for Muslims around the world. Special morning prayers are held in mosques and visits are made to homes of friends and relatives.
o Christmas - 25 December
Like their brethren around the world, Malaysian Christians attend church services, hold family dinners and exchange gifts on this festive day.