For those stricken with wanderlust and desire to experience a melting pot of cultures within an all-encompassing destination, no other country in the world offers such splendour of cultures, heritage, language country which offers a unique perspective into the rest of Asia as a melting pot of races, cultures and religions. All in one location - Malaysia.
Diversity of People
The three main ethnic groups constituting the Malays, Chinese and Indians have their own unique culture and heritage, such as language, belief system, tradition and religion. At the same time, some rituals and traditions have become more colourful and enriching through intermarriage as well as assimilation of other cultures.
The cultures of Malaysia are an amalgamation of many traditions handed down from many generations' centuries ago. For instance, the Malay religion, they do not have any surname instead they add their father's name with a combination of ('bin') for the men and ('binti') for the women; (i.e. Suriayati Binti Ahmad). The word 'bin' and 'binti' symbolizes that he/she is a Malay. As for the Indian race, they do not have any surnames just like the Malay race but in this race, they practice to place the initial of the father's name at the front of their name. For an example, P. Vivekananthap. Next, for the Chinese race, they have 3 names. For instance, the surname (family name) comes first, followed by 2 personal names.
Some of the religious festivals celebrated by the different races in Malaysia include Hari Raya Aidilfitri (Malay), Deepavali (Indian), Chinese New year (Chinese), Christmas (Christians), Vasakhi (Punjabi), Wesak Day (Buddha) and Gawai Festival (Kadazan). Many celebrate these festivals with open houses, where they are visited by other races who bear friendly Malaysian warmth and well wishes. These are always great occasions to celebrate and enjoy companionship.
In Malaysia, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture organises national festive open houses in conjunction with some of these joyous festivals. During these events, visitors will be treated with sumptuous Malaysian cuisines of the particular community and feted with special cultural performances and activities.
Even though Malaysia is a multicultural country, there are etiquettes being practiced by various cultures. Some practices are fine with some cultures but may not be relevant hence it would be ideal to practice etiquette in reverence to the different cultures and traditions.
- Malay community
Gifts - never give any form of alcohol, or soft toys portraying dogs or pigs, product made of pigskin and to offer only 'Halal' food.
Greetings - it is common for Muslim women to not shake hands with the opposite sex.
- Chinese community
Gifts - it is considered good luck to wrap gifts in colourful wrapping
Greetings - when talking to the elders, it is common to offer wishes as a sign of respect while handshakes are just a light shake.
- Indian community
Gifts - some Indians may be Hindus who are vegetarians and may not appreciates made of leather or containing meat, especially beef.
Greetings - a hand shake is fine with any gender, accompanied with a smile
The official language of Malaysia is Bahasa Malaysia (the Malay language). English acts as the second language whereby it is widely spoken with other languages such as Mandarin and Tamil. These 4 major languages are being taught in the schools which provides an opportunity for students to acquire more languages for better communication benefits. The merging languages have caused many creoles languages such as 'Manglish'; a combination of 2 languages (Malay and English language). For an example, "Let's go to the mamak".
Diversity of Local Cuisines
Malaysia is rich with multicultural cuisines. There can be many types of local food found in this country as many cultures have their own specialty of cuisine depending on their culture. The most famous local cuisines to be enjoyed are 'nasi lemak', 'asam laksa', 'satay' (Malay culture), 'roti canai', 'vadai', and 'nasi briyani' (Indian culture) and 'char kuey teow' and 'chee cheong fun' (Chinese culture). These foods can be found all around the country, in fact every food has their special places such as 'char kuey teow' is famous in Penang, 'satay' is famous in Kajang, and 'nasi briyani' is famous in Kuala Lumpur.
Glorious Traditional Costumes
In Malaysia, tourists may be able to see people of various cultures wearing their traditional costumes, especially during festive seasons. Some of these include the Baju Kurung, Baju Melayu, Baju Kebaya (Malay traditional outfit), Saree, Jippa, Pavade (Indian traditional outfit) and Cheongsam and Changsan (Chinese traditional outfit).
Malaysia, Truly Asia is truly a land with many splendours and interesting facets to make every trip an interesting discovery. These, coupled with the many unique attractions make Malaysia a truly vibrant and memorable travel destination.