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Chinese New Year

The festival is welcomed with family reunions, the lion dance, firecrackers, mandarin oranges and giving/receiving ang pow (red packet containing money). The preparation, however, begins with shopping of new clothes and decorating one?s house. A few days before the New Year celebration, Chinese families give their home a thorough cleaning.


It is believed that the cleaning sweeps away the bad luck of the preceding year and makes their homes ready for good luck. Brooms and dust pans are put away on the first day so that luck cannot be swept away.


Some people give their homes, doors and window-panes a new coat of red paint. Red is a must to characterise wealth and prosperity. Homes are often decorated with paper cutouts of Chinese auspicious phrases and couplets. The eve of Chinese New Year is the highlight of the celebration as it is on this day that family members return home for the reunion dinner to rekindle family ties and enjoy the sumptuously prepared meals. Dinner is usually made up of seafood and dumplings. Meanwhile, children look forward to playing with fire crackers while gleefully receiving the ang pow.

Moon Cake & Lantern Festivals

Also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, this event is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar. It marks a successful rebellion against the Mongol rulers of the Yuan Dynasty in 14th century China, where secret messages were hidden inside some moon cakes while lanterns were used as signals. Today, round moon cakes with various fillings are presented as gifts while lantern processions are held.

Moon Cake & Lantern Festivals

Literally, it means the 15th night and is referred to the 15th night in the Chinese New Year. Initially it marks the end of the Chinese New Year but the Chinese always has symbolic meaning behind a practice. In the ancient China, lantern festivals accompanied by poem guessing and reading sections were the main events during a Chap Goh Meh evening. The young ladies who were not allowed to hang on the street will be granted the permission to go out from the confines of their homes, dressed in their bejeweled best and walked in the street. They are normally accompanied by the fiercest looking aunts and servants. Many of the ardent gentlemen found their princess of charming during from looking on longingly at the passing parade under the moonlighting.


And there begins their romance. Instead of the lantern parade and guessing-answering activities, the highlight of the festival is the orange throwing ceremony. Usually after the family dinner, the local maidens will be in gang either with fellows or family go to the nearby river or sea and throw orange into the water orange with the wish that the suitor will approach her sooner. Meanwhile the gentlemen will row a boat and try to catch the ?suitable? orange. Off course it is always for fun. Today there are local associations or clubs organized this ?oranges throwing? every year as one of the festivals for this celebration. Chap Goh Meh here is still celebrating with dragon dance, prayers and family gathering.


Many Chinese, Indians and indigenous communities of Sabah and Sarawak are Christians. On 25 December, special services are held in churches all over Malaysia while carolers mark the yuletide spirit in homes and shopping centre.

Wesak Day

A day when Buddhists observe the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. Religious offerings and rituals - such as 'bathing of the Buddha', chanting of Sutras (holy scriptures), lighting of joss sticks and ordination of monks - usually take place in the Buddhist temples around Malaysia. Night sees colourful processions of decorated floats with devotees carrying candies to denote the 'path of light and righteousness.


The new year celebration for Sikhs, it also commemorates the birth of the Khalsa order in 1699AD, when Guru Gobind Singh (the 10th Sikh Guru) baptized the Sikhs.   Bestowing the name Singh - meaning 'lion' upon males, and Kaur - meaning 'princes'- upon females. At home and in Sikh temples, prayers are chanted and hymns are sung.

Gawai Dayak

Celebrated throughout Sorawak, the Gawai Dayak festival marks the end of the rice harvest and is a thanksgiving ritual to the spirits for a bountiful harvest. It is also common for marriages and unions to be carried out at this lime. Celebrations include live traditional music and dancing, the sharing of food and drinks and other cultural displays. Beauty pageants and traditional games are also organized. Tuak which is wine made of fermented rice is generously passed around. The word "Gawai" means a ritual or festival whereas "Dayak" is a collective name for the natives of Sarawak, i.e. the Iban, Bidayuh, Kayan, Ken yah, Kelabit and Murut among others.


On this auspicious day, the Dayaks would visit their friends and relatives. Such visits are also known as "ngabang" inthelban language. Obviously, it is a great time to visit Sarawak during the Gawai Dayok festival. Visitors are welcomed to share the celebrations at the various longhouses in the state.

Pesta Kalimaran

The Kalimaran Festival is an annual cultural event held to celebrate and honour the Murut people and their traditions. More than 10,000 people are expected to throng the colourful festival, which will be held at the Tenom Murut Cultural Centre, in Tenom, Sabah. Locals and tourists will be able to watch and take part in traditional dances and games or view the intricate designs on the Murut attire particularly from the largest sub-groups of the Tagol from Nabawan and Timugon from Tenom. Among the other activities include the Kalimaran concert, Kalimaran Queen competition and Murut handicraft exhibition. Apart from that, two Murut sub-ethnic groups namely Tagol and Timugon will showcase their traditional culture through cultural performances and a mock wedding.


It is jointly organised by the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, Sabah Cultural Board, Tenom District Office and Sabah Murut Association.

Pesta Kaamatan

The Kadazan Dusun and Murut groups of Sabah celebrate their harvest festival in May. The highlight is a ceremony performed by the Bobobizan, or high priestess, to pay homage to the rice spirit so that a good harvest can be expected.   Tapai (rice wine) is commonly served amidst festivities, and the harvest queen contest is held to seek the fairest maiden in honour of a legendary heroine of the community.


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