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Mohd Shuhaimi bin Haji Ishak


Malaysia, a multiethnic and multi-religious society in Southeast Asia, has a
population of 27.7 million comprising three major ethnicities, consisting of 67%
Malays/Bumiputras, 24.7% Chinese, and 7.4% Indians along with many smaller
minority groups. The Federal Constitution of Malaysia declares Islam as the official
religion, but guarantees religious freedom. Malaysian observes a number of
celebrations according to the religious faith of its people. The Malays celebrate their
Muslim festivals such as Aidil Fitri and Aidil Adha. The Chinese in Malaysia celebrate
festivals like Chinese New Year and Chap Goh Mei where cultural celebrations such
as the lion dances and Chingay procession take place. For the Hindus, apart from
the Deepavali celebration, the festival of light, the Thaipusam is a celebration where
more than one million people flock to Batu Caves. While in East Malaysia, the
grandest celebration is Tadau Keamatan in Sabah, and Gawai Dayak in Sarawak. Both
celebrations are of significance as the occasion to mark rice harvesting season. The
paper attempts to highlight the celebrations of the major ethnics groups in Malaysia
and depicts real experiences of individuals of each group to show that it
accommodates the differences in culture and religious belief.
Keywords: celebrations, Malaysia, multi-religious, constitution and ethnic groups


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How to Cite
BIN HAJI ISHAK, Mohd Shuhaimi. CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS FESTIVALS: THE MALAYSIAN EXPERIENCE. JATI - JOURNAL OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN STUDIES, [S.l.], v. 15, p. 97-111, dec. 2010. ISSN 2600-8653. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 27 may 2019.