Roughly 25% of populations in Malaysia are descendant of Chinese, Qingese and Mingese.
They emigrated to Old British-Malaya or the Old Malacca Empire in different period (from 1400s-1900s). Majority immigrants came to Old British-Malaya during the war days from 1800s to 1949. The year 1949 is the year China Communist establish, the border closed, it marked the end of Chinese emigration to British-Malaya.
To visit Malaysia is to visit the traditional community of ancient traditional Chinese, because all the Malaysian-Chinese never experienced the cultural revolutions in China, the Malaysian-Chinese did not know anything that occur in China, therefore Malaysian-Chinese, mostly, still remain conservative, old thinking, still living like an ancient Chinese, interesting ??
People here are relaxed, so remember to take things easy.
Don't rush them too much for services etc.
Some have religious reasons to be unfriendly to strangers, though generally people are friendly.
Though at the right places, they really do smile a lot, especially with the generous tip you give ! That means the 5 Star hotels and restaurants etc.
Hope for, but don't really expect that sort of service and smiles at the backpackers club.
1) Malays are Muslims and so have Muslim names like Mohamed Samad, Fatimah Othman.
Men have "bin" (son of). Women "binti" (daughter of). Indian Muslims have similar names.
Chinese who are converted into Muslims will use "Abdullah" as family name
2) Chinese will have their surnames in front, eg Tan Beng Huat, Lim Siew Ying where Tan and Lim are family surnames. And many may use B.H. Tan and S.Y. Lim as initials are easier to pronounce and remember.
Many Chinese use Christian names even if they are not Buddhist, eg. Robert Tan Beng Huat or Sylvia Lim Siew Ying.
Because standard romanized Chinese were not used, many of the spelling of same surname were dependent on the Chinese dialect used. Eg. Ooi, Oei, Huang have the same Chinese character.
3) Indian names are varied as there are Punjabis, Bengalis, Tamil, Telugu, Ceylonese, Gujeratis groups. Eg Rajagopal Seenivagam, Nirmala Ramasamy. A/L (son of) and A/P (daughter of ) are also used. Indian Christians also have Christian names.
For Indians who are Sikhs, then men will have their names ending with "Singh" and women with "Kaur".
So usually from the names, you can guess what the person's ethnic and religious background is. Usually.
The culture of purple colors is a very interesting culture in Malaysia. I believe is a very useful tip for foreign tourists to get to know more about Malaysian culture of colors. It is basically an unaware habit by many peoples in the country. Based on my personal observation, I noticed bosses have a habit of showing personal character to reject certain colors and the one color so often mentioned by them was purple. Many employees learnt from bosses, they too, dislike purple color.
The Feng Shui culture is another headache problem nowadays especially in architectural design, landscaping design, commercial design and others. This tip is very important for newbies when dealing with Feng Shui believers especially the Malaysian-Chinese. When I was working in the advertising agency, I once come across a funny incident where the client asked for a special illustration for their milk products. The illustration was to show a mother with 2 of her precious kids sitting closely with her enjoying the milk. The illustrator did a very skillful work spending nearly one month's time to draw (illustrate) the mother and two kids. The moment we saw the drawing, we reacted - Wow so beautiful. Okay good, the next day the drawing was shown to the client to proof to have a look. And you know what happens? The client just happened to be a Feng-Shui believer to reject the drawing and the reason they gave was - 3 person should not be together in the photo, or else the one in the middle will die. The drawing has to be sent back to the person who draws it to change completely. I was there to witness all the procedures from the start until the end. The second time when the illustrator bring back the drawing was only one mother with one girl and the quality of drawing was bad and rough. Somehow the client accepted and happy the job done.
For some Chinese family, a Taoist mirror of octagonal shape is placed above the door.
This is to ward away evil spirits from disturbing the household. Many Chinese also believe in fengshui as to where it best direction a house should face, the location of the bedroom and the bed's position.
If you see this above the door, you can be sure that family inside is a Chinese family who believe in Taoism and supersitious too. Chinese who are of some Buddhist sects or Christians will not have this symbol above their door.
During the major festivals of Malay Hari Raya Aidil Fitri, Chinese New Year, Indian Deepavali, Christmas, Iban (Sarawak) and Kadazan (Sabah) harvest festivals, many Federal and State leaders will hold open house whose dates and locations will be published in the media.
Many locals and tourists are welcomed to join in the celebration which usually have free package food or buffet at official compounds. Great way to shake hands with royalty and the famous politicians, taste local food and mingle with Malaysians from all walks of life.
Great photo opportunity as many will be dressing in their best traditional clothes.
Based on the phases of the moon, the Chinese New Year occurs between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, usually during mid-January to mid-February.
Celebrated by the Chinese community throughout the world, the festivities is celebrated for 3 days by the busy urban Chinese workers, but as a whole, is celebrated for 15 days.
On the Eve of the New Year, all family members, including those away from home, are expected to gather for the annual reunion dinner. The first day of the New Year is usually spent visiting close family members and relatives. It is the practice of elders and married couples to give children and the unmarried angpow - little red packets containing ' lucky money'.
The third day is called the ' Squabble Day ' and is said that if one visits a friend on this day, one would quarrel or squabble with the person during this year.
According to tradition, the God of Wealth is welcomed into the household on the fifth day so as to ensure good fortune all year round. The seventh day, said to be the day mankind was created, is deemed ' Everyone's Birthday '.
The Cantonese, mainly in Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Singapore, observe this raw and fresh creation by eating raw fish salad called yue sang. The eighth and ninth day are devoted to the worship of the God of Heaven and the Jade Emperor. Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy is also offered prayers on New Years Eve, the 9th day and the 15th day of the first moon.
Chinese delicacies and drinks are served and red angpows are given to the children .
On the fifth night, called Chap Goh Meh, the Hokkien community in Penang celebrates in a big way.
Unmarried women throw oranges into the sea to wish for good husbands amid much fun at the Esplande.
The Kek Kok Si Temple in Air Hitam, attracts the most pilgrims during the festivities. In Kuala Lumpur the City almost empties out.
The holidays offer the opportunity for both Chinese and non Chinese to return to their hometowns or go on holiday.
The most significant celebration for Muslims, it signifies the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. The celebration is determined by sighting of the new moon on the day, before the next month on the Muslim calendar, Syawal. The words ' Hari Raya ' mean 'day of celebration.'
Ramadan is the name of the one-month fasting period when Muslims fast from dawn till sunset.
Muslims starts the day by wearing new clothes and congregating in the mosques early in the morning to perform Hari Raya Puasa prayers followed by visiting the graves of the departed.
The Muslims also give packets of money to kids when they go visiting. The packets are usually green in color and children often look forward to getting these money tokens on Hari Raya Puasa.
Deepavali or Diwali means "a row of lights".
In Malaysia, it is celebrated as the day the evil Narakasura was slain by Lord Krishna. The triumph of light over darkness and good over evil.
Getting up early before sunrise, oil is applied on heads and a bath is taken. This ritual oil bath is known as "ganga-snanam" and is done to cleanse one of the impurities of the past year. Prayers are held at the family altar, after which the family gathers before the elders to receive their blessings.
Celebrated on the 15th day of the 7th Lunar month. On this day it is believed that the "Gates of Hell" are opened and that the dead return to visit their living relatives. The Chinese feel that they have to satisfy the imprisoned and hungry ghosts in order to get good fortune and luck in their lives.
Prayers are offered to the dead and offerings of food such as chicken, vegetables, fruits, bean curd and white rice are placed at street corners and roadsides to appease the spirits. This is believed to prevent the wandering spirits from entering their homes and causing disturbances in their households.
Offerings are also made by burning replica money notes, which are also known as ' hell money '. Some families also burn paper houses, cars and even paper television or radio sets to give to their dead relatives. The Chinese feel that these offerings reach the ghosts and help them live comfortably in their world.
The Mid-Autumn or Mooncake Festival falls on the 15th day of the Chinese eighth month and is celebrated to signify the end of the harvest season. As it is associated with paper lanterns, it is also called the Lantern Festival.
In Malaysia, the Chinese celebrate the festival with family gatherings, prayers, mooncakes and lantern parades by children.
Lanterns, usually come in various shapes like dragon, butterfly, rabbit, carp and others. In keeping with the times battery operated lanterns are also available, but they are not as popular as those lit by candles.
To the Chinese, the round shape of mooncakes symbolises family unity. Each mooncake is about the size of a human palm. Among the popular varieties are the black bean paste (tou-sha), brownish lotus paste (lien-yung) yellow bean paste (tou-yung). Usually the paste contains the yolk of a preserved duck’s egg to enhance the flavour.
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and mult-religious society and so when you go out to eat with Malaysians, you may want to ask about food restriction if any to avoid any misunderstanding.
For Muslims, food must be halal. Most hotels in Malaysia serve only halal food. There is a sign halal on packaged food and drinks. Restaurants and hawker centers run by Malays or Indian Muslim are halal only.
For some Chinese Buddhist and some Indians, beef is off the menu for religious and cultural reasons.
There are also strict vegetarians. So do not assume but ask first before inviting someone to dinner.
Effective December 13, 2006, the 13th King of Malaysia, Yang Di Pertuan Agong, is Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, the current Sultan of Terengganu.
Sultan Mizan was appointed by the Conference of Rulers which consists of all the Rulers of nine states and will be the King for a five year term.
Sultan Mizan will succeed the current King Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail.
The first King of Malaysia the Yang Di Pertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan Tuanku Abdul Rahman Tuanku Muhammad which potrait appears in all the Malaysian ringgit notes.
Hindus celebrate Thaipusam on the tenth month of their calendar. It coincides with the full moon at the end of January and beginning of February 'Thai' is the Hindu month which falls between January 15 to February 15 and 'Pusam' refers to a star which is at its brightest during the period of this festival. Celebrated in all parts of the world where there is a concentration of South Indians, the manifestation of the festival is best witnessed at Batu Caves and Penang.
Leading up to the event, Hindus prepare themselves by fasting, praying and observing austerities.
Devotees carry offerings and climb the 272 steps to the main cave to seek forgiveness for past deeds or to thank Lord Muruga for wishes granted. Some devotees carry the Kavadi, a wooden arch with two pots of or honey at its end, decorated with peacock feathers.
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