the heart of Southeast Asia at one of the world's major crossroads,
Malaysia has always been pivotal to trade routes from Europe, the
Orient, India and China. Its warm tropical climate and abundant natural
blessings made it a congenial destination
for immigrants as early as 5,000 years ago when the ancestors of the
Orang Asli, the indigenous peoples of Peninsular Malaysia, settle here,
probably the pioneers of a general movement from China and Tibet. They
were followed by the Malays, who brought with them skills in farming and
the use of metals. Around the first century BC, strong trading links
were established with China and India, and these had a major impact on
the culture, language and social customs of the country. Evidence of a
Hindu-Buddhist period in the history of Malaysia can today be found in
the temple sites of the Bujang Valley and
Estuary in Kedah in the north west of Peninsular Malaysia, near the Thai
border. The spread of Islam, introduced by Arab and Indian traders,
brought the Hindu-Buddhist era to an end by the 13th century. With the
conversion of the Malay-Hindu rulers of the Melaka Sultanate (the Malay
kingdom which ruled both side of the Straits of Malaka for over a
hundred years),, Islam was established as the religion of the Malays,
and had profound effect on Malay society.
arrival of Europeans in Malaysia
dramatic change to the country. In 1511, the Portuguese captured Malaka
and the rulers of the Melaka Sultanate fled south to Johor where they
tried to establish a new kingdom. They were resisted not only by the
Europeans but by the Acehnese, Minangkabau and the Bugis, resulting in
the sovereign units of the present-day states of Peninsular Malaysia.
The Portuguese were in turn defeated in 1641 by the Dutch, who colonized
Melaka until the advent of the British in the Dutch exerted any profound
influence on Malay society. The British acquired Melaka from the Dutch
in 1824 in exchange for Bencoolen in Sumatra. From their new bases in
Malaka, Penang and Singapore, collectively known as the Straits
settlements, the British, through their influence and power, began the
process of political intergration of the Malay states of Peninsular
World War II and the Japanese occupation from 1941-45, the British
created the Malayan Union 1946.This was abandoned in 1948 and the
Federation of Malaya emerged in its place. The Federation gained its
independence from Britain on 31 August 1957.In September 1963, Malaya,
Sarawak, Sabah, and initially Singapore united to form Malaysia, a
country whose potpourri of society and customs derives from its rich
heritage from four of the world's major cultures - Chinese, Indian,
Islamic and Western.
Chinese New Year Is celebrated over a period of 15 days, beginning
from the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. It is a joyous
occasion marked by family reunions, giving of red packets or 'ang pow'
by parents to their children or among relatives and well wishers. This
practice coupled with the giving away of oranges is intended as a symbol
of prosperity and good luck for the recipients. Another feature is the
traditional lion dance.
It was on this day in 1974 that KL was declared a Federal Territory.
City dwellers observe the occasion with day-long competitions and
performances at the city's main parks such as Lake Gardens and Taman
Thaipusam is a day for penance and atonement among the Hindu
community. The festival begins with a grand procession in Kuala Lumpur
of the silver chariot bearing the statue of Lord Subramaniam. A striking
feature of the procession is the sight of thousands of coconuts being
thrown on the streets and devotees carrying kavadis or wooden steel
yokes with longspikes and metal hooks pierced into their bodies.
Malaysia is famous for its shopping where quality, variety and
pricing is hard to beat. Mega Sales Carnival is held three times a year,
in March, August and December and discounts galore are offered during
Wesak Day celebrated in May is the most auspicious day in the
Buddhist calendar as it marks the birth, enlightenment and death of
Buddha. Celebrations begin before dawn with Buddhist devotees gathering
in temples throughout the country. It is a time for prayers, offerings,
chanting and alms giving. A significant act at this time is the
releasing of doves and tortoises at temples.
The rich and intricate potpourri of cultures and traditions
reflecting the proud and unique heritage of Malaysia is reflected in
this event. This month long event filled with many activities at various
venues in Kuala Lumpur is certainly not be missed.
Malaysia is endowed with a fabulous range of Asian and International
cuisine. Coupled with a plethora of tropical, sub-tropical and even
temperate fruits, Malaysia's Food and Fruit Festival offers a divine
culinary experience that is difficult to find elsewhere.
Eve Celebration 2001 - Kuala Lumpur.
Join in the fun on the eve of the anniversary of Malaysia's
national day. A carnival-like atmosphere pervades on this night of
mesmerizing dances, dazzling colourful fireworks display and
performances by local artistes, culminating in the Merdeka countdown for
the raising of the jalur Gemilang at the midnight amidst patriotic
Malaysian and tourists cheer the hearty shouts of 'Merdeka'.
August 31 marks the nation's national day which is celebrated in
Kuala Lumpur at the Dataran Merdeka or Merdeka Square situated in front
of the Royal Selangor Club. Thousands of spectators converge on the city
to watch the colourful parade along the streets of the city and
performances held at the Merdeka Square. However, the celebrations are
also rotated among other states.
Among the Hindus, Deepavali or the Festival of Lights signifies the
triumph of good over evil. Celebrated during the 7th month of the Hindu
calendar, a traditional oil bath precedes the festivity. The celebration
includes visits to temples and prayers at household altars. Hindu homes
are adorned with lights or oil lamps to signify the victory of Lord
Krishna over the demon Narakasura.
A meaningful day of celebration for Muslims to mark the end of
Ramadhan or the fasting month. Muslims usher in Hari Raya Aidilfitri
with prayers in the mosque and asking forgiveness from family members.
It is customary during this occasion for Muslims to open their homes to
well-wishers as well as to visit friends and relatives. A special
delicacy that is served at this time is Lemang, glutinous rice cooked in
The festive air of Christmas is prevalent in the city especially in
the decorations, caroling and partying during the occasion.
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