Celebrating Malaysia’s events and festivals

At almost any time of year, some part of Malaysia is busy throwing a party. While the majority of Malaysia’s people follow the Islamic faith, the presence of many other cultures in the country provides other opportunities for celebration.

Malaysia’s cultures encourage everyone to participate; open house parties during Eid ul-Fitr typically include non-Muslim friends, and even Malay Muslims enjoy Chinese New Year celebrations.

Thaipusam is a major Hindu festival that runs from January to February.

Thaipusam is a major Hindu festival that runs from January to February.

Thaipusam (between January to February) is best observed from a distance, scenic as it is. The festival is celebrated by Malaysian Hindus, some of whom sacrifice to the deity Murugan by piercing their bodies with skewers attached to colorful frames called Kavadi. Kavadi carriers march to Batu Caves in Selangor; the whole procession of carriers walk up 272 steps into the entrance of the cave and deposit their kavadi at the feet of a statue of Murugan.

Hari Raya Puasa is the local name for Eid ul-Fitr, and is the occasion for feasting everywhere in the country. Most Malays in the city go “balik kampung”, or return to the villages where they were born, wearing the finest clothes they can muster.

The Colours of Malaysia celebration in May transforms Kuala Lumpur into a showcase of the best and brightest of Malaysia’s cultures and traditions.

In East Malaysia, you can visit tribal feasts like the Kaamatan Festival in Sabah, celebrated every May by the Kadazan/Dusun people in gratitude for a successful harvest; or the Gawai Festival in Sarawak, celebrated between May and June by the state’s Iban and Bidayuh people.

The Mooncake Festival has as its centerpiece the savory Chinese mooncake, a rich, round pastry filled with sweet red bean paste, lotus nut paste, and salted egg yolk.

The Mooncake Festival has as its centerpiece the savory Chinese mooncake, a rich, round pastry filled with sweet red bean paste, lotus nut paste, and salted egg yolk.

Malaysia’s large Chinese population invites everyone to join in their unique feasts, like the Chinese New Year occurring between February and March, and the Mooncake Festival in September. The former is a multi-day celebration that brings out bazaars and food stalls selling traditional Chinese goods and foods; the best Chinese New Year celebration can be found in Penang. The Mooncake Festival has as its centerpiece the savory Chinese mooncake, a rich, round pastry filled with sweet red bean paste, lotus nut paste, and salted egg yolk.

Finally, National Day on August 31 celebrates Malaysia’s independence from British rule, with the night before National Day (Merdeka Eve) lighting up with fireworks and performances by local artists.  A parade along Kuala Lumpur’s streets winds up at Merdeka Square, where the country’s independence is reaffirmed.

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