Malaysian culture is a harmonious melting-pot of many different Asian cultures, all co-existing together in one country. The famous slogan used by the Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board in their ads is Malaysia- Truly Asia. While Malaysia has a lot to offer visitors to her shores, one of the truly unique attractions on offer is the country’s people. After all, what is a country without its people?
The largest community in Malaysia is the Malays, accounting for 50% of the population. It is a widely held belief that the ancestors of the Malays were very likely the first civilization to inhabit Malaysia. Excluding the small pockets of indigenous people, the Malays are believed to be first settlers all along the Malay Peninsula. In fact, it is because of this that they are afforded privileged status in Malaysia’s Constitution, where they, along with the indigenous folk are deemed to be Bumiputras (the literal translation being ‘son of earth’). Many of the Malay families today can trace their ancestry back to Javanese, Bugis and Minang sailors from Indonesia.
All Malays are Muslims, as enshrined in the Constitution. The language most commonly used within the community is Malay, also known as Bahasa Melayu (literal translation being ‘Malay language’) and their stance as moderate Muslims emphasizes being warm, good-natured and well-mannered. As a majority community, and given certain special privileges due to their status as a Bumiputra, the Malays play a dominant role in Malaysia’s politics.
Being the largest community, Malaysian culture has been heavily influenced by Malay contributions, most notably with Batik (patterned cloth), wau bulan flying (traditional kite flying), wayang kulit (shadow puppet theatre), dikir barat (traditional group singing with instrumental accompaniment) and silat (a stylized martial art). Because a significant portion of the Malay families have a lineage that stretches back several centuries to Indonesia, the...