Culture in Malaysia
Culture of Malaysia
Malaysia is one of the colorful countries of South Asia, which is renowned for
its diverse culture and is fast becoming one of the hottest tourist destinations of South Asia.
The country comprises of thirteen states and two geographical regions that is separated
by the South China Sea. Culture of Malaysia is eclectic; the country boasts of a heterogeneous
society. Apart from the indigenous people of Malaysia, the country also boasts of citizens,
of Indian and Chinese origin. Thus the culture of the country was considerably influenced
by the Indian and Chinese culture.
The Malaysian culture was further influenced by European,
Arab and Persian culture. The multiculturalism of the country is also the result of
the fact that the Malaysia was a part of the British Empire. The colonial hangover still
continues in the country and English is the favored language of the middle class and upper class. Overall the Culture of Malaysia can be best described as an assorted culture that is rich in variety and truly global.
Malaysia with its multiculturalism is home to delightful festivals, celebrations and feasts
all round the year. Festivals in the country are either celebrated nationwide or at the state
level. For example Prophet Muhammad's Birthday and Chinese New Year is celebrated all
throughout the country whereas Deepavali is celebrated in West Malaysia.As far as cultural
activity is concerned, there is no dearth of cultural activity in the country and the cultural
scenario of the country is always bustling with activity.
Malaysia is rich in art and
architecture; there are many art colleges and art galleries in the country boasting of
avant-garde paintings and sculptures. The country is also interspersed with numerous
architectural marvels, which are renowned in all over the world and are major tourist
attractions of the country. Crafts of Malaysia are also variegated and reflect multiculturalism
of the country; some of the crafts of the country are Batik, Songket, Woodcarving and Keris.
Malaysia also boasts of a local film industry and presently the country produces 15 films and
about 300-400 television dramas, serials, and other programs every year.
The country is
scattered with 250 theaters and cineplexes exhibiting local but as well as international films.
In order to boost popularity, appreciation and film literacy the government of Malaysia also
organizes the annual National Film Festival. Malaysia's theater scenario is also progressing
rapidly and the plays of the country are traveling to the West and some of the plays have also
received critical appreciation.
• Bergendang (Drumming)
In the traditional musical performances of the Malay community in Sarawak,
it is the womenfolk who play the gendang or drums. Seated behind a screen,
they drum out their beats in rhythm to songs sung by young maidens and dances performed by men.
• Wayang Kulit (Shadow Play)
Wayang Kulit is a traditional theater art-form using puppets and shadow-play
to tell the epic tales of the Ramayana. The puppets are made of buffalo hide
and mounted on bamboo sticks. There may be as many as 45 puppets - handled
entirely by a single master puppeteer, known as the Tok Dalang.
• Maggagong (Gong Ensembles)
Brass or bronze gong ensembles form an inherent part of Sabah's ethnic music.
The melody varies from district to district. The Kadazan Dusun group include
six songs and a drum called the sopogogungan (Penampang) in their musical composition
while the Bajau from Kota Belud add kulintangan, a set of kettle-bedded gongs.
• Bunga Malai (Garland Making)
Flowers form an integral part of the cultural heritage of Malaysian Indians for
religious occasions, weddings, moving house, or welcoming an important guest. Flowers,
holy basil, and the leaves of the margosa or mango tree are strung together to form
a malai or garland. They are done in different styles to suit each particular occasion.
• Sumpit (Blow Pipe)
The tribal people of Sarawak are known for their magnificent hunting skills. They are
aided by the sumpit, a six-foot long wooden blowpipe with a poisoned or a barbed tip.
One quick puff sends the dart (sometimes twenty-yards away) to the victim, usually a wild pig,
deer, or bird.
• Silat (The Malay Art of Self defense)
Silat, the Malay art of self-defense combines a series of supple movements, which enables
a person to defend himself under provocation. The aim of silat is to instill confidence in
oneself in the face of adversity. Occasionally, a keris (small dagger) may be used.
Malaysian Culture: Lifestyle
The Malaysian culture shows a lot of modern influences that is seen in the western culture today.
Today, we can see many influences even in the native families, which speak
the English language and follow a modern culture of pubbing and are a party going lot.
This does not mean that the Malaysians do not follow their customs and traditions.
Today, young girls still use a piece of cloth that covers their head which is called as Tudung.
Family values forms still have a strong foothold in the culture of Malaysia.
Malaysian Culture: Music
The Malaysian music has seen influences from the Indonesia, Portugal and even has influences
from Thai forms and Chinese styles. The pop scene has seen many developments in Malaysia
and the more traditional kind of music was popularized in the 1920s-1930s. Yet another genre,
the Pop Yeh Yeh ruled the Malaysian music scenario in from the year 1965 to 1971.
Malaysian bands were heavily influenced with bands such as Scorpians and Def Leppard before
the mid 1980s.
Malaysian Culture: Art and Handicrafts
A lot of influences can be seen in Malaysian art. External influences have made their
presence felt in music, dancing and even literature apart from art. The traditional
handicrafts of Malaysia include the textiles which are woven by the Punan tribes,
basketwork, woodcarvings, patterned mats etc. The decorative art that belonged to
the Malaysian art also includes batik cloth, which is dyed by hand with the help of a