Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural land with Malays, Chinese, Indians, and Orang Asli/indigenous people who all share a unique cultural identity and yet able to continue the practice of their respective traditions. The Malays form the majority of the population and have their own customs and traditions that are followed by the Malay community. Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural land with Malays, Chinese, Indians, and Orang Asli/indigenous people who all share a unique cultural identity and yet able to continue the practice of their respective traditions. The Malays form the majority of the population and have their own customs and traditions that are followed by the Malay community. Many of the beliefs and practices have developed as a result of multiple cultures and inter-marriages among the cultures who settled in Malaysia.
Here are 10 interesting Malay customs and traditions you should know:
- The children of a Malay household are strictly bound by custom to look upon their parents with respect and total obedience. Following Islamic practices, Malays would attend Friday (Jumaat) prayers at a nearby mosque around noon.
- Most businesses will give a two-hour lunch break, or even longer, on Fridays for Malays and Muslim workers to go perform their prayers, whereas morning school sessions are dismissed early and afternoon sessions start later to allow time for students and parents to carry out the prayers.
- The traditional Malay dressing is quite conservative as per the laws of Islam. The Malay formal dress for men is the Baju Melayu, a loose, long-sleeved shirt which is worn over a pair of trousers. A white cap known as Kopiah is worn while going to the mosque for prayers. A velvet cap called as Songkok is also worn along with the formal dress in leather shoes.
- Women, on the other hand, wear Baju Kurung, a loose tunic worn over a long skirt, which is usually made of batik, silk or sungkit material. A shawl known as Selendang is used to cover the head.
- A Malay woman does not leave the house for forty days after the birth of her child. At the end of this period, a ceremony called Berchukor is conducted where the child’s head is shaved.
- Traditionally Malay houses in the villages (kampung) are constructed of wood (timber) and palm-leaves (attap). It is built on a platform that is raised on stilts. This is done not only to protect the household from floods and the incursion of any wild animals or reptiles but also to keep the house cool during the hot tropical days.
- When a guest visits a home the host greets them with the Arabic phrase Assalamualaikum which means “peace be upon you”.
- During the festive celebration of Hari Raya, the Muslims undertake a month-long fasting known as Ramadan. The fasting begins with the sighting of the new moon and ends on the last night of the same moon. During that month the Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset.
- Malays always use the right hand while eating even when they use forks and spoons. In fact, all good things are done with the right hand including holding the holy book of Quran.
- Malay weddings are a grand affair, the most important part of Malay wedding is the Bersanding where the couple is seated next to each other on a sofa called the Pelamin. This is a mark of approval and blessing. Loved ones and guests sprinkle the couple with scented water and yellow rice. The guests are given a Bunga Telur, an ornamented egg festooned with a flower, as a sign of fertility.