Sociology Index

Social Customs And Traditions In Malaysia

Social Customs And Traditions

The customs of the people in Malaysia vary according to the ethnic group. Respect of elders and parents, along with obedience, is very important to ethnic Malays. Islamic laws are followed for marriages, funerals and other parts of the Malay's life, while Hindu traditions are followed for ethnic Indians, such as with wedding ceremonies which are planned by a Hindu astrologer.

A traditional Chinese family in Malaysia follows patriarchy, has a strong preference for sons, and their family ties are very strong with the extended family. Chinese New Year is a very festive time for Malay Chinese and is observed on the first day of the first moon on the Chinese calendar. The date of this celebration will vary from year to year depending on when this time falls on the lunar calendar and usually lasts for about 15 days.

Malaysia's Festivals and Celebrations

There are many festivals and holidays observed in Malaysia. The diverse cultural and racial mix is evident the variety of observances, of which a few are listed below. Hari Raya Puasa or Aidilfitri is a joyous and important Muslim holiday that is celebrated throughout the Muslim world. It is the end of a month month of fasting and each day is started with children asking their parents forgiveness for anything they have done wrong, before they go to prayers. It is a time for special food, visiting friends and relatives and the children are given gifts of money.

New Year is celebrated with a traditional dinner on New Year's Eve and subsequently continues with visits to family, friends and the honoring of the elderly. Packets of money called ang pow are given away at this time as well.

Wesak Day, in May, is Buddha's Birthday and is considered to be the most important day of the year for Buddhists. This day is celebrated with prayers and incense at the temples with the main celebration being a lantern procession at night.

Independence Day is August 31 and marks the time of Malaysia's independence. It is observed with parades, exhibitions, shows and free film admission for children. Those less fortunate in Malaysia are presented gifts of money and food.

Deepavali is an important Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil, particularly that of Lord Kirshna over a mythological demon king. It is observed with prayers in the morning, followed with visits to friends and relatives with delicacies served. In the evening, lanterns are lit.

Malaysia is a multicultural society and the predominant cultures are Malay, Indian and Chinese. Malaysia is a melting pot of ethnicities and religions and can make it difficult to know how to behave with members of each culture. However, good etiquette is often simply a combination of common sense and a basic understanding and respect for the local culture.