Invented Tradition” of Eric Hobsbawm : Headgear “Songkok” and Prayer (Bacaan Doa) as an Invented Tradition in Malaysia

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NAME: SITI FAIROS BT ALI AL TAMAS
MATRIC NO: 204289
QUESTION NO: 2
SUBJECT: NATIONALISM AND ETHNIC CONFLICT RELATION (GFPP 2623) “Invented Tradition” Of Eric Hobsbawm : Headgear “Songkok” and prayer (bacaan doa) as an invented tradition in Malaysia

According to Eric Hobsbawn (1983), state is the one that make sure the existence of the invented tradition and create sense of belonging among the citizens. This means that the government has the authority to choose the new invented tradition for the best of the states and citizens. The characteristic of the new invented tradition must create belief, value , histories, duty and symbols that eventually establish unique identity of the nation. Invented tradition also shows the symbol of the state such as Uncle Sam in United State ( Dr.Rie Nakamura’s slide). In Malaysia, headgear (songkok) and prayer (bacaan doa) shows government of Malaysia create a new invented tradition so that citizens feel the unity, patriotism, loyalty, belief, value, custom and their belongs to one nation not many nations. In this paper, firstly, I will explain about invented tradition, then, I will analysis about headgear (songkok) and prayer (bacaan doa) as an invented tradition in Malaysia. The Oxford English defines “ tradition” is something that is passed down, from one generation to the next. According to Morrison (2003), transmission process defines tradition, when a piece tradition is passed on such as story to one person to another the tradition “improve” but the process usually a long one ( Morrison.2003.p.4). It shows that, tradition is changing and improve because tradition transmission process took a long time but its still have characteristic of original tradition. However, the definition according to Eric Hobsbawm, invented tradition are: “a set of practices, normally governed by overtly or tacitly accepted rules and of a ritual or symbolic nature, which seek to inculcate certain values and norms of behaviour by repetition, which automatically implies continuity with the past." ( Eric Hosbwam.1983.p.1). The invented tradition have their own reason on why it was invented. In order to understand the reason on invented tradition, I will discuss how headgear (songkok) and prayer (bacaan doa) become as an invented tradition in Malaysia. A “songkok” is an important headgear in Malaysian tradition, mostly worn by the men of Malaysia during various significant occasions such as prayers, weddings, funerals and religious festivals. It is also part of the formal traditional Malay attire of “Baju Melayu”. The “songkok” used to be worn during the Ottoman Empire in 1830 and subsequently spread to South Asia to the Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei (Wikipedia, 2012). This argument was supported by Eric Hobsbawn (1983) that many traditions claim to be old are often quite recent and sometimes invented ( Eric Hosbwam.1983.p.1). Nowadays, Malaysia government made rules that in a Dewan Undangan Negeri or in Dewan Rakyat, a member is required to wear the “songkok” in order to match with the dress code of the assembly (penyata rasmi parlimen Malaysia,2003). For a Malaysian to wear a songkok at an official function, does not need that the wearer is required to be a Muslim or a Malay. For an example, a Malaysian Chinese wearing a “songkok” at the Istana doesn't change him into a Malay Muslim at that very moment. He is just a Malaysian citizen who is showing his respect to the Malay Royalty present and observing protocol. He is showing himself to be a Malaysian or “Our culture”. This clearly shows that wearing a “songkok” become a invented tradition. This was support by Eric Habsbawn that, the state is the one that create “Our culture” that represent the nation and share the culture among the citizen. (Dr. Rie Nakamura’s slide). Furthermore, wearing the “songkok” create symbol of our nation's identity. For example, male Malaysian Ambassadors at abroad wear the “songkok” when attend any function...
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