Sociology Index

Social Customs And Traditions In Malaysia

Social Customs And Traditions

Family Customs in Malaysia

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 is patriarchal, will have a strong preference for sons, and their family ties are very strong with the extended family.

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 (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.

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. Sometimes this event is in January, other times in February, since it follows the lunar calendar, not the solar calendar. It 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.

The birthday of the Yang di-Pertuang Agong, Supreme Head of State, is celebrated on the first Saturday in June and is obeserved as a public holiday. On this day, awards and titles are given by His Majesty to those people who have set themselves apart from other Malays with their service to Malaysia.

Independence Day (now known as National 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 (the poor) 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 demon king (mythological). It is observed with prayers in the morning, followed with visits to friends and relatives with delicacies served. In the evening, lanterns are lit.

Christmas is celebrated by the Christians in Malaysia usually with the attendance of a church service on Christmas Eve. There are also carolers who sing at various places (children's homes, retirement homes, hotels, etc) and bring Christmas joy. The exchange of gifts is practiced as well in celebration of Christ's birth.