Monday, October 31, 2005

ISTANA BUDAYA


Istana Budaya is the first theatre in Asia to be equipped with state-of-the-art stage equipment. This makes it one of the ten most sophisticated theatres in the world, and on par with the Royal Albert Hall in London. Built at a cost of RM210 million, the theatre has a floor area of 21,000 sq.m., and is part of a cultural complex covering 5.44 hectares

The inspiration for the design (by Malaysian architect Muhammad Kamar Ya’akub) is a traditional moon kite in flight. The main building takes the form of the ‘sirih junjung’ (a traditional arrangement of betel leaves used during Malay weddings and welcoming ceremonies).

The building is divided by function as in a traditional Malay house with its three sections: the ‘serambi’ (lobby and foyer), ‘rumah ibu’ (mother house) as the auditorium, and the ‘rumah dapur’ (kitchen) as the stage and rehearsal hall.

The interior makes extensive use of Langkawi marble, while high-quality tropical wood is used for the doors, which feature hand-carved flower and leaf motifs. The lush carpets in the foyer and lobby feature motifs based on the cempaka flower and the beringin tree (reminiscent of a traditional Mak Yong performance).

Accessibility For Disabled Persons
We welcome wheelchair users. Our disabled-friendly facilities include a ramp into the foyer, a lift with easy-to-reach buttons, and an area designated for wheelchair users. Wheelchair-accessible rest rooms are located at both the Stalls and Grand Circle levels.

Panggung Sari Auditorium :
The Royal Boxes on both sides of the Auditorium are patterned after the spacious windows of a Malay house. The grand entrance to the theatre replicates the “Balairong Seri” (palace hall) of a Melaka palace.

The theatre lobby on the third floor takes the shape of the “rebana ubi”, a traditional Malay drum.

The auditorium, called the Panggung Sari, can seat nearly 1412 people altogether, including 797 in the Balai Hadapan or Stalls on the first floor, 312 in the Balai Utama or Grand Circle on the second floor, and 303 in the Balai Peninjau or Upper Circle. The orchestra pit, when not in use, can accommodate 98 people.

Interior Design/Decoration:
A total of six paintings by Malaysia's famous artist and Seniman Negara (National Arts Laureate), Dato' Syed Ahmad Jamal, adorn the walls of the lobby, from the first floor right up to the third floor. The paintings, although displayed separately, are actually one piece of work that depicts the legend of the Princess of Gunung Ledang.


The Malay Traditional Theatre Costume Gallery:

Here are exhibited the costumes of the main characters in the traditional theatre of Bangsawan, Mak Yong, Randai, the Gamelan, Terinai and Layang Emas performances (all from Peninsular Malaysia), and the theatres of Ajat Bebunuh and Bambarayon from Sarawak and Sabah respectively.


*http://www.istanabudaya.gov.my/index.cfm

By Imelda

YAYASAN SABAH


The idea of establishing of the YAYASAN SABAH was mooted by Sabah's first Head of State, Tun Datu Haji Mustapha Bin Datu Harun, at Mesapol, Sipitang on November 9, 1965. In his speech he stated:

"Yayasan Sabah will act as an instituition that would strive initially to remedy the educational deficiencies in Sabah and subsequently to devise a system of redistributing the state's timber wealth to all of the populace. The initial objectives of the new foundation were largely directed to the creation of new educational opportunities; to provide ample facilities for improvement and progress in education; to widen the scope for the higher education of Sabah students throughout the world; to promote the establishment of a university college in Sabah; to arrange the award of scholarships from various institutions, including the Foundation itself, to students of Sabah origin; and to make donations to schools in need of special assistance."

In recognition of the needs for a better standard of living and education for Malaysians in Sabah, and in order to create an organisation which could address those needs more effectively and expeditiously, an enactment for the establishment of Yayasan Sabah was passed by the Sabah Legislative Assembly in 1966. Within this broad perimeter, Yayasan Sabah Group has been extensively involved in the provision and improvement of the socio-economic development of Malaysians in Sabah.

Yayasan Sabah Group's vision to be a Dynamic, People Oriented, Caring and Committed organisation is a clear message of its steadfast commitment to fulfil its corporate objectives of supplementing and complementing the Government's effort to bring social and economic progress for Malaysians in Sabah. Its social programmes comprising of Intellectual and Mind Development, Socio-Economic Development, Socio-Cultural Development and supported by research and development activities are implemented through its five zones, namely West Coast North, West Coast South, Interior, East Coast North, and East Coast South.

In the commercial and industrial sectors, Yayasan Sabah Group is acknowledged as a pioneer, leader, innovator and facilitator of growth. To sustain its effective role in generating funds for its socio-economic programmes, Yayasan Sabah Group has expanded its income generation base from the traditional forestry based sector to include other productive sectors such as transportation, real estate, hospitality, eco-tourism and recently, into fisheries, agro-plantation, biotechnology, and oil and gas. This is in-line with the strategic direction or “Halatuju” of the State which focuses on agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.
*Article and photo from http://www.ysnet.org.my
By Imelda

PENANG NATIONAL PARK


Introduction

Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve was declared the Penang National Park (PNP) on 4th April 2003. Located at the north-western corner of Penang Island stands the last wilderness and nature heritage of Penang, covering an area of about 2562 ha. Part of the area forms the catchment of Teluk Bahang dam. It is the most remote part of the state. Lying way out of civilization, it is the nature park for scientific & nature studies and recreational activities. Penang National Park is all lush green and the fragrance of the sea breeze is enchanting. It conveys to us the message of eco-balance that everyone should live life joyfully. Its ecosystem consists mainly of tropical lowland forest with coastal features. Be it beaches, hills, forest trails or even lake, it offers big biodiversity as a national park.
Background
The proposal for the PNP was first mooted in 1959 by a group known as “The Committee for the Preservation of Areas of Natural Beauty, Pulau Pinang”. In 1976, MNS Penang Branch sent an official memorandum to the Penang State Government to elevate the Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve (PAFR) to that of a National Park. A 1978 MNS-USM expedition found that species diversity in the PAFR was high with 25 species of mammals, 53 species of butterflies, 46 species of birds and a considerable variety of marine life (e.g. seaweeds, sea anemones, corals, mollusks, marine worms, crustaceans, echinodems, sea turtles). In 1985, the MNS (Penang Branch) again sent a memorandum to the Penang State Structure Plan Unit advocating that PAFR be designated as a National Park. The MNS led scientific expedition from 15-23 April 2000 shown this pristine site harbours a wealth of 417 flora and 143 fauna species. Among the animals spotted at the park and its surroundings are turtles, otters, dolphins, mousedeers, rare lizards and monkeys. The unique features are the five habitat types not found in the other major Malaysian nature reserves – meromictic lake, wetlands, mangroves, mudflats, coral reefs and turtle nesting beaches.

The Beaches
There are 8 beaches. The beaches of Penang National Park are popular amongst tourists as well as locals. Each beach has its own uniqueness; richness of variety of floras and faunas and of its potential tourism activities.
1) Teluk Bahang Beach
It should be noted that Teluk Bahang is the area where the Bahang Bay is located. It is usually being confused with the Teluk Bahang township. At the very edge of the northern boundary of the forest reserve lays Teluk Bahang the forest reserve. The panoramic fishing jetty engulfing the backdrop is a rare sight by itself - built of mangrove timber and palm trunks. This scenic beach is bustling with tourists and campers going into the national park. The area is disturbed with sandy beach and seasonal muddy seabed. Much litter have accumulated and scarred the scenic beach. A little stream flows into the bay. A scout camp was supposedly built here to replace the coronation camp at the Botanic Gardens. Army reserves trainings were common here.
  • Flora: – Disturbed secondary forest and hardy plants such as the screw pines dominate the coast. The red paper-like bark called pelawan trees are abundant. Undergrowth and ferns spread between the trees.
  • Fauna: – Reptile such as monitor lizards and snakes are common. Squirrels and monkeys occasionally make an appearance.
  • Tourism: - This beach is easily accessible within walking distance from the jetty and the restaurant. There is a shady camping ground and with civilization just around the corner – makes suitable venue for family outings.
2) Teluk Tukun
Sungai Tukun flows into Teluk Tukun. A small island opposite is Pulau Tukun Tengah. At the estuary, the forestry department had built chalets. The national park headquarter will be situated here. Camping pits were built along Sungai Tukun. There are several small swimming pools for campers. The piped water is supplied from the upper stream.
  • Flora: - The cool stream feeding the Tukun bay fans out into the shallow sea. Several mangrove trees are found along the estuary. Secondary forest is the main feature. Exotic flowering plants and ornamental plants are decorated along the trail parallel with the stream. Timber trees are found along the upper reaches of the stream.
  • Fauna: - Two types of monkeys are found here. The dusky leaf monkeys and the long tailed macaque can be seen if you are observance enough. Birds are aplenty.
  • Tourism: - Proper camping ground and amenities provided by the authority make camping a luxury. Birdwatching should not be missed here. The swimming pools provided good place for family outings and nature camps.
3) Tanjung Aling
Tanjung Aling housed the USM’s research centre. There is a jetty to bring in supply from town. The forest and coastal areas are been used for research on bio-technology. The research station’s collection museum has vast collection of flora and fauna exhibits.
  • Flora: - The secondary forest surrounding the centre has vast variety of plants. Herbal plants are aplenty and need more research to discover the potentials.
  • Fauna: - Rats, birds, monitor lizards, snakes and squirrels are common. The occasional landing of turtles provide record of the larger fauna found here.
  • Tourism: - The beach is easily accessible and it is a suitable camping site for campers who prefer to camp within the vicinity of the biological station. It is also a resting place for hikers enroute to Muka Head and beyond.

4) Teluk Duyung- Teluk Duyung is a beautiful bay protected by the Muka Head’s cape. It is the most popular beach for tourists. Teluk Duyung is also called Muka Head, named after the Muka Head’s peak which stands a majestic lighthouse. It is a private land cultivated with coconuts and durians. A burial ground of at least 80 years old resembles that of Indonesian’s Acheh is an interesting historical artifact.

  • Flora: - Pyrrosia angustata an uncommon fern found only in this part of national park. Other noticeable trees planted include casuarina trees, sea almond, cashew nuts and the swaying coconut palms. A colony of unidentified aroids grow between a section of the coconut orchard.
  • Fauna: –The fact that Teluk Duyung is also popularly known as Monkey Beach suggests that monkeys are abundant. The species that are common here are the Long Tailed Macaque. Other animals include the vipers, monitor lizards, squirrels and rats. Amongst the most noticeable big birds are the White bellied Sea Eagles and the Brahminy Kites.
  • Tourism: - It is an ideal swimming bay with flat and sandy seabed. Beachcombers will enjoy collecting mollous during low tides. Lunch packages were organised by the beach hotels. Barbecue pits were built by them to cater for the tourists. A broad flight of steps leads up from the beach to the lighthouse. The peak offers a panoramic view of the Kedah’s peak and the surrounding islands. The lighthouse was built in 1883 and has a useable well on the peak.

5) Teluk Ketapang- This is a small isolated beach stretching less than 100 meters. It was originally known as Monkey Beach. This is where monkeys roam the beach scavenging and ransacking campers. The beach got it name from the numerous sea almond trees known locally as Pokok Ketapang. The seed of the sea almond when cut open give a white kernel tasting like almond and hence the name sea almond.

  • Flora: - There are many exotic trees planted by the previous inhabitant of this isolated beach. Quite a number of matured timber trees are found along the trail between Teluk Duyung and Teluk Ketapang. Some rare herbs can also be found. These include the famous aphrodisiac plant called eurycoma longifolia or locally known as tongkat ali.
  • Fauna: - Bats are abundant here as the sea almond attracts fruit bats. The long tailed macaques are common. Monitor lizards and sea otters are often seen around the rocky bay.
  • Tourism: - This secluded beach with a small bay can be easily accessed by boat. The hotels that offer packages often come to this beach to prepare barbecue lunch for the guests. Turbulent current around the Muka Head’s cape hindered smaller boats from easy assess to this beach. Black sand is found along the beach. A little stream flows to the sea providing the needed fresh water for campers and tourists.

6) Pantai Kerachut- Famous for its seasonal meromictic lake, it is a popular picnic and camping site and famous turtle hatchery. Collecting of the turtles’ eggs is prohibited. Pantai Kerachut is the only beach where the Green Sea Turtle Chelonia mydas can be spotted. It is believed that the Green Turtle only migrate here for nesting as extensive algae are not known and found around Penang Island. It is one of the largest sea turtle and the Penang National Park will ensure the continuity of the turtle’s visit.

  • Flora: – Cashew nuts are common here. This indicates that some agriculture activities had taken place many years ago. Fully-grown timber trees are found inside the forest beyond the coast. From afar the tree crowns look greyish from the crowns of shorea curtiss.
  • Fauna: – Bats and birds are common. Long Tailed Macaques are a nuisance as they raided campsites for food. The other Dusky Leaf Monkeys which are shy are harder to spot. The calls from a pair of resident stock billed kingfisher in the evening occasionally break the monotonous beating waves and chirping birds. Wildboars, monitor lizards, and mousedeers are quite common during low tourist seasons.
  • Tourism: - The memorictic lake is the greatest attraction here. Warm saline water below and fresh water on top. Crab, rare fishes and large prawns are quite common. The fishery department has built a turtle sanctuary.

7) Teluk Kampi- Teluk Kampi has the longest beach in the park. Tell signs of trenches were found along the northern coast indicating a defense post for the Japanese Army. Historically this could be the best landing place for seafarer. There are many artifacts and past history to be found if one is to venture further.

  • Flora: The beach is long and plants are aplenty ranging from rocky bonsai to timber and herbal plants. Wild orchids found on steep rocky slopes are common. An old fruiting pokok malacca can be found along the beach. The tree bear fruits throughout the year welcoming hikers to refresh their taste buds.
  • Fauna: Fish are wild. Campers will never have to bring food if they care to fish. Wild boar and some wild cats have been sighted. A couple of sea otters can be seen basking on the beach from afar.
  • Tourism: A stroll from one end of the beach to the other offered a sweeping panorama over the blue ocean far beyond. Lazing on this isolated beach, the distant skyline with passing steamers and setting sun guarantee to refresh and charge up your life again.

8) Pantai Mas Pantai- Mas is a golden beach. It was a beautiful beach until the pig farm at Pantai Acheh village polluted it with muddy discharge from the farm. The beach still looks “golden” with the golden sand if not for the enormous amount of rubbish. Being very close to civilization, mud and mangrove create a wilderness few people would like to go. The difficulty to access Pantai Mas by sea could be the reason why dwellers abandoned their homes here.

  • Flora: Formally a coconut plantation, it is now a wasteland overgrown with lalang and other undergrowth. Strangely not too distant from the coast a whole colony of nepenthes manages to survive the coastal habitat. The muddy seabed also helps mangrove trees to propagate. The soft wood sea hibiscus with the yellow flowers has flourish right to the edge of the beach.
  • Fauna: Lizards are common. Aroids and some exotic ornamental plants can be found. A resident otter family can be seen every day along the mangroves. Mousedeers, civet cats and small mammals are found in the interior.
  • Tourism: With muddy seabed and difficult accessibility by boat, Pantai Mas is an adventure beach. Here streams run throughout the year.

The Hills

The vast stretch of hills stretching from Teluk Bahang to Pantai Acheh holds great potentials for adventure and tourism. It has undulating topography with ravines and little valleys and hills of irregular height linked by ridges. It is through these ridges that many trails crisscrossed each other to form an intervene web of trails in the park. The highest point is Batu Itam at 1500 feet on the southern flank of park. Bukit Telaga Batu is about 1100 feet and has potential folklore of a 6 inches deep well on a boulder on top the western flank of the hill.

The magnificent serviceable lighthouse stands majestically on the Muka Head peak of 700 feet is still faithfully guiding seafarers into our Penang's water. The hill practically joins to form a ridge bisecting the park into West and East. It is fortunate that a dam has been built on the southern east of park providing the needed buffer zone whereby rich flora and fauna will thrive.The eastern side of the park is therefore a vital water source. This area should be a protected area for wild species against human intrusion. Most of the hills remind us of clear skys and dark forest, of steep climbing and flat terrains, of slippery leaflets, of large boulders, of cheerful friends shared by a common memories of pain and fun. Perhaps this could be the only place where hikers are free to roam in Penang.

The Safari

Each evening looking out on the distant setting sun, the raptors make their final catch before going back to the tall seraya trees. Hovering and guiding gracefully above and making a dashing dive, and emerging with a catch or two seem much more enjoyable than seeing caged exotic wildlife imported from far away places. This is best natural safari.
Resort At present there is not much resort facilities at the park. The only available accommodation is at Sungai Tukun. Other beaches are suitable for camping. However, permission is needed for camping.

Tourism

Tourism forms the basis of northern Penang's economy, to which the park make a significant contribution. The beach tours were adequately promoted on the sun, sand and sea. The variety of unexpected sights offered by the coastline, the greenery, the greyish canopy tree tops, the acrobatic raptors, the golden beaches combed with fresh sea breeze, can be fully appreciated while on a boat.

Conclusion

Under the shadow of the Penang National Park, all wild life dwells. It is the last wilderness in Penang and must be preserved at all cost at its present state to face the constant challenges to that very distracting force seeking to pit against nature called development. With vibrant beauty, all flora and fauna sing in harmony and invoke us to treat them with love and care. Nature has so extravagantly bestowed upon us this last wilderness called Penang National Park.

*Article taken from http://www.forestexplorers.com/pnp.html

By Agnes

Friday, October 28, 2005

White Rajahs of Sarawak


The 19th and 20th century history of Sarawak reads like a Hollywood movie script—benevolent English adventurer and former British army officer from Bengal goes to an exotic country, suppresses a rebellion, awarded the title of White Rajah, stops headhunting and piracy, and brings order and prosperity. There is a boat chase, sea battles with warships, ships attacking river villages and pirates, and storming of a jungle stockade. Between the 14th and 16th centuries, Brunei was a powerful sultanate.

By the early 19th century, Brunei's power over Sarawak was dwindling for Sarawak was in rebellion and there was piracy on the seas. In 1826, the Rajah of Sarawak, Pengiran Indera Makota, forced the Malays and Land Dayaks (now known as Bidayuh) to work in the antimony mines, collected taxes and stole from the Dayaks, and sold Dayak women and children into slavery. Previously, the Malay elite that served as local chiefs (datu) collected taxes and traded with the Dayaks. The Malay datu and Dayaks revolted in 1836.


In 1839, James Brooke (1803-1868)
sailed up the Sarawak River to Kuching on his 142-ton schooner Royalist to deliver a letter thanking Pengiran Bendahara Hassim, uncle and regent to the sultan of Brunei, for his help in rescuing some shipwrecked British sailors. Hassim was sent by the sultan to suppress the uprising. He was desperate to regain control of Sarawak and offered to grant Brooke the title of Rajah and a small part of the northwestern coast of Borneo near Kuching if he ended the rebellion. Brooke interceded and brought a peaceful settlement.

Thus began the dynasty of the White Rajahs who ruled Sarawak for hundred years. On September 24, 1841, Brooke was appointed governor of Sarawak and on August 18, 1842, he was awarded the title of Rajah. When Brooke died in 1868, Sarawak had grown three fold, headhunting and piracy were curtailed, there was only one European company in the country, and trade, mostly Chinese, was taking root. Brooke, however, was a poor administrator and financier. He initially used his personal funds and refused to exact anything more than a nominal tax.


Charles Johnson (1829-1936)
was the nephew of James Brooke. He later changed his surname to Brooke and became the second white Rajah of Sarawak in 1868 ruling the region until 1917. He was not as colorful as his uncle, but was a better administrator, financier, and politician, with firsthand knowledge of the indigenous people. Charles set up a proper government, extended the territory to its present boundaries, reduced inter-tribal warfare and headhunting in the interior, expanded trade and commerce, balanced the budget for the first time, and left many fine buildings.


These buildings include the Astana (1870), the white, thatched palace which was Charles Brooke's residence; Fort Magherita (1879) which protected Kuching from marauding pirates and named after the Rajah's wife; and the Sarawak Museum (1891) which houses the ethnographic and natural history collections of Sarawak. Sarawak became a British Protectorate on June 14, 1888. Oil was discovered during the last years of Charles' reign.


In 1917, Charles Vyner Brooke (1874-1963),
the eldest surviving son of Charles, succeeded his father. Rajah Vyner (always known as Vyner) did not interfere with local customs, but drew the line at headhunting, which was practiced by Dyak tribesmen. When a young Dyak comes of age, a girl didn't think much of him until he had two or three heads. Vyner spent many hours with these men teaching them that severing an old woman's head just to please a girl wasn't a sign of honor.

The last war expedition occurred in the early 1930s against the Iban chief Asun. The Brookes were in Sydney when Kuching fell to the Japanese on Christmas Day in 1941. Sarawak was placed under Australian Military Administration following Japanese surrender in 1945. Vyner Brooke could not afford the cost of rebuilding. He also had little confidence in his nephew and heir apparent, Anthony Brooke. On April 15, 1946, Brooke resumed his position of Rajah, but ceded Sarawak to Great Britain on July 1, 1946 in exchange for a pension. He retired to England.

Many people regard the Brooke Raj as a golden age where traditions were strong, the economy improved, and violence was under control. Under the Brookes, the rights and interests of indigenous people were protected and they were allowed to pursue their subsistence-based lifestyles. Local communities were shielded from European or Chinese influence and missionaries were largely banned until after World War II. But why did so many northwest Borneo people support the Brookes?

Like many southeast Asians, the Bidayuh believed that there are certain individuals with the capacity to manipulate the spiritual world and natural forces to human advantage. Bidayuh call this supernatural power semangat. Everything the Bidayuh saw about James Brooke indicated that he was highly potent with intense semangat—his self confidence, the armed followers and sailors, the 6-pound cannons and other armaments, the deference and courtesy by the head of the Brunei heirarchy in Sarawak, his bravery in warfare, and his ability to bend the Brunei authorities to his will. By participating in his potency, it was hoped that some of the potency would "rub off", thus, replenishing their own spiritual substance and ensuring material prosperity.


The legacy left by a hundred years of Brookes rule still stands—architecture; the administrative heritage with the District Office, where District Officers are in-charge, Residents of Divisions with Residents in-charge, and "out-stations" beyond HQ in Kuching; and an end to cannibalism, head hunting, piracy, and inter-village violence. For more information on the White Rajahs of Sarawak, take a look at James Brooke and the Bidayuh, Rajah Brooke and 19thC Sarawak, Rajahs of Sarawak, Sarawak History Message Board, The Borneo Project: The Brooke Era, and The Name of Brooke .

By Joseph

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition



From 6 – 11 December 2005 in Langkawi, Kedah


LIMA is back, bigger and better than ever! This premier showcase held every two years is a gathering of exhibitors from around the world to display the finest in aviation equipment and facilities. It’s the regions biggest exhibition showcasing the latest and state-of-the-art equipment and technology in the aerospace, air defence and civil aviation industries. Join over 500 exhibitors from 30 nations at LIMA ’05 on the beautiful island of Langkawi, Kedah.The LIMA ’05 Air Show, is a unique biennial event. The Air Show is region’s premier showcase of technology in the aerospace, air defence and civil aviation industries.

This event is the place for companies of the growing defence markets of the Asia-Pacific region.LIMA 05 is one of the most important regional aerospace and shows in the Asia-Pacific region. Malaysia is proud to present the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) bringing together the latest technology and products from the aerospace industries.

LIMA is now established as one of the major airshow in the world. As a biennial event, the next series will be held in Langkawi Island, Malaysia from the 6th December – 11th December 2005.

LIMA series of exhibition has proven to be an excellent platform for aerospace manufacturers and related industries to display and promote the latest aerospace technology to Senior Government officials, both civil and military and leaders of industries from Malaysia as well as the Asia Pacific region. A unique showcase for both the aerospace and maritime industries in the fast-expanding Asian commercial aviation, airport and defence markets.

When began in 1991 with the aim of making Langkawi as the venue for light and experimental aircraft to fly unhampered by heavy traffic modeled after Oshkosh in USA, LIMA is now on the world’s airshow calendar where major players cannot afford to miss. Unlike anywhere in the world a four-hour flying display is held daily throughout the show and is a definite crowd puller.

Almost at every LIMA business deals were clinched as well as memorandum of understanding was signed. The LIMA 03 exhibition for example generated business totaling RM2.182 billion (USA 575 million) through 30 contracts, letter of offer and acceptance or intent and memorandum of understanding.

Among the product involved were the purchased of a computer based trainer for the Royal Malaysia Air Force, Augusta Westland A109 helicopter and Super Lynx helicopter. Lima 03 also saw the first participation by the Malaysian Government’s Space division at the event. The agency’s participation is expected to continue in the coming events.

Accessibility
Langkawi, Kedah can be reached by road, rail and sea.

The North-South Expressway transverse the State of Kedah, thus enabling just a 5 hour ride from Kuala Lumpur to Alor Setar and then by ferry to Langkawi.

The national railroad track also passes through the state with various stops along the way.

Malaysia Airlines, the national carrier fly several times a day from Kuala Lumpur to Alor Setar and Langkawi. There’s also weekly direct flight from Osaka, Japan to Langkawi.

High speed ferries operate from Kuala Kedah to Langkawi throughout the day. There’s also regular ferry services from Penang as well as Satun, Southern Thailand.

Travellers have a wide range of transportation to choose from. Comfortable air-conditioned express coaches and long distance taxis are readily available thus providing easy connection throughout the countries.

By Haizan

FORT MARGHERITA


Completed in 1879, Fort Margherita commands a breathtaking and strategic position along the Sarawak River, with a location chosen to overlook the long stretch of river approaching Kuching. It has the most advantagous point from which to defend the town from possible attack. Named after the second Rajah's wife, the Ranee Margaret, it was built in the style of a late English renaissance castle.

Fort Margherita has been converted into the Sarawak Police Museum and many of its old cannons, cannon balls, guns, pistols, swords and other vestiges of its military are still on display. The armory still exists, as does the condemned prisoners cell. The Police Museum has a display of old police weapons, reconstructed opium dens and scenes of hanging and other forms of criminal punishment.

The Police Museum

Fort Margherita, the enduring monument and potent symbol of the security and stability of the Brooke Raj, is now the Sarawak Police Museum. Three floors of the venerable fort became, in 1971, three exhibition galleries that now stand sentinel over rare and significant artifacts from the history of the Sarawak Police Force. The museum's collection includes a replica opium den, an old police lock-up, various forms of punishment dating back to the Brookes, uniforms and police paraphernalia, and weapons confiscated during Confrontation and the Communist insurgency.

Fort Margherita is accessible by road. It is a 15-minute drive along Petra Jaya, or a short river cruise from Pangkalan Batu, in front of Main Bazaar on Kuching Waterfront.

BY OVIA

PUA KUMBU


A strong prominent aspect of the Iban community in Sarawak is the Pua Kumbu. The Iban Pua or Pua Kumbu poses a great deal of significance in all stages of the Iban community's way of life. Sarawak is known for its unique mix of tribal traditional beliefs, cultures and folklore, therefore its' not hard to accept that ancient legends are a vital enhancement behind the story of the Pua Kumbu and how it came to be.


Legend has it, that twenty-four generations ago, Singalang Burong, the God of War, taught his grandson; Surong Gunting the use of the most sacred of all the pua, the Lebur Api, after a era of warfare. It was said that the heads of those who were held captive during the war should be received ceremonially on this cloth, which has to be dyed a deep red colour, and was often woven using a special supplementary weft technique. This pua was woven at Batu Gelong, the longhouse abode of the goddesses of weaving, Kumang, Indai Abang, and Lullong. Indigo (tarum) and other plants used for dyeing were also planted around the longhouse.

The lifestyle and belief system of the Iban community is closely related to the Pua Kumbu. Young girls are taught the art of weaving by mothers and grandmothers alike to produce these pieces of cloth, which plays an integral part of their lives. Rituals and ceremonies will not be completed without the usage of the sacred cloth, the Pua Kumbu. Such rituals include births, marriages, death, fertility, the planting of paddy, and so forth.

The Pua Kumbu is also present during important celebrations such as the Gawai, and soul-searching ceremonies and is believed to be a means of communication between the worlds of the living and the world of the dead. To the Ibans', communication between these two worlds are vital especially for a tribe that reveres its ancestors and spirits of yesteryears to come to play when a serious decision is to be made. Their world is one where remnants of their past ancestors wonder about, where spirits linger and where ancient mythical Gods still rule.

Customarily, the weaver lays out a woven graphic design of the Iban animistic beliefs, the spiritual realm (petara or antu) and the "world view" of life around them such as the trees, animals, insects, jungle life, natural and supernatural life. It was said that the more powerful and intricate the design, the closer it brings the weaver to the spiritual world. Subsequently, the more powerful the portrayal of the design, the greater the danger is to the weaver.

Hence, prayers are recited before the start of every process to safeguard the weaver from harm or sickness they may sustain from the making of the Pua Kumbu. It is said that the weaver will have a mystical experience when it comes to designing the patterns for the Pua, where the design is said to 'transpire naturally' as the weaver begins the process. That is why the making of the Pua Kumbu is considered a religious and spiritual journey and why the sacredness of the process is highly regarded in the Iban community.

Weaving is a means of evaluating status for women in the Iban community. A woman, depending on the use of dye, design and skill, will fit into a certain rank within the community. In order to be a master weaver, a woman has to move up from rank to rank. A good Pua Kumbu is not only a demonstration of her relative success in terms of knowledge and expertise but also the state of her inner self.

Basically, the Pua Kumbu consists of two pieces of cloth joined down the centre, which represents the upper and lower webs from a loom. This is done usually by lacing a stitch. The web threads, which have been tied together in the dyeing process, possess the same but reversed patterns, so that if half a motif comes to the edge of the cloth, its other half completes it when the central joining is made. The Pua is usually fringed at both ends, and to make that possible, a gap must be left in the weaving between the upper and lower 1webs. There are generally one or two rows of coarse twining at the ends of a Pua. This is done so that it gives the pua certain firmness and a good wearing quality to those edges.

The Pua Kumbu has come a long way since its magical and mythical beginnings. Deeply nestled in the jungles of Sarawak, it is here where this beautiful textile started its journey to being showcased at major fashion shows regionally and internationally. A true taste of Sarawak, with deciphering of its legends, its people and its culture, beautifully entwined within its rich colourful threads, the Pua Kumbu has stood steadfastly in the face of modernization proudly holding on to patterns of the past.

Words By: Zushahron Dina Zulkernain of Virtual Malaysia

Atkinson Clock Tower, Sabah.


Prominently located on the opposite of Jalan Gaya.

For a view of colonial edifices visit the Atkinson Clock Tower. Standing prominently on the bluff along Signal hill Road with its natural surroundings, is one of the best places to view the city's skyline that extends to the islands.

Built by Mary Edith Atkinson in 1905 in memory of her son Francis George Atkinson, the First District Officer of Jesselton, as Kota Kinabalu was then known. It is located in an area that was the first developed part of the city. He died of 'Borneo fever 'in 1902 at the age of 28.

It was formerly used as a navigation aid for ships until it was overshadowed by taller buildings. It was one of three buildings that survived the destruction of the Second World War, one of Sabah's oldest standing structure. Over the year it has undergone renovations and repair but has managed to retain most of its original characteristics.

Just below to the left of the tower is where a very well known hotel stood in the 1930s (now the old police station). The tower is also the land mark to look for if you wish to board a private long distance taxi or bus to destinations such as Kinabalu National Park, Kota Belud, and others.

*Additional information on surrouding area:

A 15 min walk from here is the Gaya Street Market.

If you are in town on Sunday, the colourful Gaya Street Sunday Market is a must! Come as early as seven in the morning where you can polish up your bargaining skills. You can find all sorts of items available for sale by locals. Some come from the far interior of Sabah to offer their produce. Here you find also a rich assortment of antiques, handicraft, potteries, batiks, fruits, pets, plants, flowers and much more.

Local fast foods and snacks are also available. If you like a local breakfast, try out the variety of shops along the street : Laksa, Nasi Lemak, Noodles, Dim Sum... the list goes on and on. The street gets very crowded, but by midday the fair is over!

The Gaya Street market also has a ‘mobile clinic’ manned by the Sabah Nurses’ Association where visitors could get simple medical tests, including blood pressure checks. Come election time, it is also a fair ‘fishing ground’ for votes by politicians, both aspiring and veterans.The tamu is such a hit that the half a kilometre Jalan Gaya market branches into adjoining streets.

Away from the hawkers and traders, shops along Jalan Gaya — goldsmith, cloth merchants, hardware traders and coffee shops — also do a roaring trade on Sunday.Even the Sabah Tourism Board office is along the road, at No. 51.

Jalan Gaya is named after Pulau Gaya, one of the five islands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park opposite KK.


By Wendy

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

FRANGIPANI - THE LEGEND



The Tree of Riches Story


Several hundred years ago a Frenchman by the name of Charles Plumier became a botanist.Below is the legend about how this came about.


Plumier decided he would like to travel the world and get rich. A fortune teller told him: 'Search for a tree that grows near churches and graveyards; its blossoms are the color of the new moon; its fragrance will overpower your soul; if you uproot it, the leaves and flowers continue to grow. When you find it you shall be rich.'

Plumier traveled far and wide until at last he reached the West Indies. He went to an old woman known for her wisdom and described the tree that the fortune-teller had told him about. 'Do you know where such a tree is found?" he asked the wise woman. The old woman told him that she did indeed know of such a tree.

You must go to the church near here, at midnight, on a full-moon night. There you will see a tree spreading its branches along the wall. Shake the branches and you will soon see riches beyond imagining. Plumier did as he was told. He found a small, lovely tree and shook it.

Blossoms fell all around him, glistening like golden coins. The fragrance did overcome his soul, and he suddenly realized what real riches were: the calm beauty of the night, the sweet scent of the flowers, the peace of the churchyard. He stopped looking for material wealth and instead continued to look for wealth in nature, discovering many plants. The family of tree that he found was named 'plumeria' after him.
WENDY

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Federal Territory Mosque


I always seem to drive past the mosque on Jalan Duta thinking that I must go there sometime but never finding the opportunity. So, when my anti religion, anti-culture, anti-art, etc, 15-year-old son visited with school and then arrived home to shock me with the news that the mosque was “awesome and fantastic”, I decided it must be worth a visit! The Internet provided little information other than who the architects were. Eventually I was given a number of a guide who would take the group round.

The state mosque, known as the ‘mosque in the garden’ is situated on a raised area surrounded by a large moat, 33 acres in total. Building commenced in March 1996 and was completed on 1 September 2000, funded by the government and run by the Islamic department, costing RM 225 million to build.

It is built to accommodate up to 22,000 people. The main prayer hall holds up to 15,000, the ladies’ prayer hall up to 2,000 and the outside courtyard the remainder. Approximately 12,000 visit at Hari Raya, although the parking is for a mere 1,000 cars. The mosque has attractive gardens surrounding the stunning building, which has 22 beautifully decorated domes.

First, we were shown round the Islamic school. There is a pre-school for five and six year olds and the main school is for seven to 12-year-olds. The children attend Islamic school for two hours daily as well as the usual day school. It is voluntary, with classes of between 20-35 pupils. The curriculum is set by the Islamic department and teaches children how to pray, how to take their ablutions, moral education and Arabic for reading the Quran. The classrooms are bright with colourful teaching aids on the walls.

Other facilities include men’s and ladies’ dormitories, nine units for ladies and 19 for men. These provide accommodation for visitors who may find it difficult with transport or in funding a place to stay.

The multi-purpose hall holds 1,200 people and is used for Islamic forums, conferences and exhibitions. The dining hall caters for 750 at weddings and social occasions. A large library is available for Islamic research.

There is a beautiful VIP room, with luxurious soft furnishings and Islamic art features, this being reserved for the King, visitors from overseas and VIP explorers! Separate greeting areas are for ladies and men. A separate conference room is available for press reporting.

The local architects visited mosques all over the world before designing this one. Built by a mainly Malaysian workforce it combines traditional design and craft but is also hi-tech.

It boasts a number of firsts: the first mosque in Malaysia with air-con (RM12,000 per month); first with a reversible escalator, adapted for bare feet and is also the second mosque with a central chandelier with no bulbs. A lift makes the 95 metres journey up the minaret easier!

We were allowed a peak into the men’s prayer hall. The wonderful chandelier, weighing 2.1 tonnes and supported by three cables, works with lenses and blister glass, attracting light into the centre so that the prisms refract the light to the whole prayer area.

At night spotlights do the job of sunlight. Lighting also highlights the design in the ceiling at night, the lighting controlled to react to the available light. The sound system is also hi-tech with cameras detecting where people are to only play to that area, the first in the world in a mosque.
The granite is from Johor Bahru and the marble from Langkawi. The mosque is symmetrical with two waterfalls and a moat, water being a feature to help calm and prepare for prayer.

The lines produced by the prayer mats inside are continued in the marble outside so that if the hall is very busy worshipers know where to stand. Stone carvings with inlaid malachite and mother-of-pearl were done in India following the style of the Taj Mahal, by the descendants of the original stonemasons.

Seven specialists came to do the final touches when the assembly was done. The calligraphy is carved in Egyptian plaster by Iranian workers, with gold leaf. Local plants feature on the beautiful hardwood doors, screens etc. Thirty traditional carpenters from Trengganu and Kelantan did the carvings, taking approximately one month to do one door. Likewise the cut glass of the windows has similar stunning flower designs.

Lastly, we were allowed a look into the women’s prayer hall, which was deceptively large, situated at the back of the prayer hall behind screens so that the men cannot see the ladies praying. A wall-to-wall carpet from India with orchids in the design was a replacement as the previous one was considered too hard for the ladies to kneel on.

This concluded our visit. I hope the group enjoyed it. I thought it was a good insight into how a mosque is also a community centre. It is a spectacular building and so interesting to hear about how it was designed and built. On the face it is a very traditional building in design but we know now how various features and technology make it a very modern and comfortable place. I would recommend a visit!

Articles and photo from - Elaine Wade of Malaysian Culture Group
Wendy

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tadau Ka'amatan

The Kaamatan or Harverest Festival is celebrated annually by the Kadazandusun community which is the largest indigenous community (600,000 - 700,000 or about 25% of total population) in Sabah. Its special characther as acultural showpiece was officially recognised in 1960 and it has remained the major celebration that is government funded.Kaamatan Festival?

Through the enlightened eyes of the Bobolians the Kadazandusun genesis and divine concept of creation, sin, repentance, love and salvation was revealed as the philosophical foundation of the annual Kaamatan Festival.First there was nothing but Kinoingan and His wife Sumundu. Out of love, they created man, the universe, heaven and earth, and everything seen and unseen, known and unknown.In the beginning, all was well in the heavens, and the world was pure and beautiful until Kinoingan’s own son Ponompulan rebelled and corrupted the hearts and minds of mankind on Earth, seeking to use all creations as tools and agents of his evil designs. Disappointed and angry, Kinoingan banished Ponompulan from the heavens and cast him to the Underworld Kolungkud.Then to discipline mankind for their sinful ways, Kinoingan delivered the seven plagues, the last of which was a prolonged severe drought followed by seedlessness and famine threatening to destroy the earth.

The Seven Scourges:
1. The First Scourge: War over lost Tataba & Kolian Pinogitigurasan
2. The Second Scourge: Plague Rapit
3. The Third Scourge: Dispersion & Migration Minogiurias
4. The Fourth Scourge: Locusts Minonombilalang
5. The Fifth Scourge: Deluge Minalagob-podluyud
6. The Sixth Scourge: Drought Minabpagadau
7. The Seventh Scourge: Seedlessness and Famine Pudsoh om Lous

Redemption
Out of compassion, Kinoingan’s Daughter Ponompuan entreated Her Father’s mercy to forgive humankind and consented to Kinoingan’s design that She be the sacrificial symbol of the greatest love of all. This in essence is socio-spiritual redemption within the traditional worldviews of the Kadazandusuns.Kinoingan thus sacrificed His only Daughter so that the people could have food. Her body parts were cut to pieces and planted as seeds and became food resources of the world. Her flesh and blood became red rice, and her sacred spirit became the Seven-in-One, the Rice Soul, fondly called Bambarayon by the Kadazandusun Bobolians.

Huminodun in Bambarayon and Bambarayon in PaddyBambarayon is believed to be embodied in all parts of the paddy plant and its related products. During the course of its season it is inevitable that paddy is damaged and parts become physically and spiritually severed and strayed from the Seven-in-One msytical Paddy manifestation of Huminodun: Som-puun, Son-guas, Son-rawoh, Son-gi-ih, Son-wawar, Som-putul and Som-bilod. This can happen naturally, unintentionally and innocently or through abuse and neglect.

Why Magavau?
Thus, immediately after harvest, Bambarayon’s severed and dispersed mystical components have to be brought home, to be appeased, healed and re-united again as one. So Bobolians perform the Magavau and Modsu’ut Ceremony, traveling through the levels of the spirit world to pursue and rescue the strayed parts of mystical Bambarayon. Whole again, Bambarayon rejuvenates and ensures the bounty of the next harvest. To thank Kinoingan for Bambarayon and to commemorate Huminodun’s loving sacrifice, the commemorative Kaamatan Festival is thus held.As the paddy grains are children to Bambarayon, the Bobolians view the Kaamatan Festival celebrants as children of Huminodun and alternatively children of Bambarayon.

Kaamatan Festival Symbol
Toguruon:The Seven-in-One Spirit, attributes and symbolic objects of fully integrated holistic Bambarayon.Zandi Rosinim Pigis (once a student Bobolian) from Kampong Pantai Tambunan shared that the following are the normal objects used to symbolize the existence of the Seven-in-One Spirit of Bambarayon:

NAMES (SYNONYMS) ATTRIBUTE SYMBOL
1. Pohinopot (Ohinopot)
2. Pohinomod (Ohinomod)
3. Pokotiru (Otiru)
4. Potingudan (Oudan)
5. Podihuntun (Ompidot)
6. Polikambang (Olikambang)
7. Potinoud (Otinoud)

Self realizing, Self determining, Self preserving, Self generating, Self integrating, Self copious, Self purifying.

Dokuton (Clay), Gagamas (Knife), Pangasaan (Sharpener stone), Solunsug (Bamboo conduit), Pinudsu- pudsu (Paddy mound), Nangkob (Paddy barn replica), Rilibu (Winnower).

The above symbolic objects are considered to correspond to the seven spiritual attributes of Huminodun in Bambarayon. Bits and pieces of the above objects are wrapped together inside a black cloth container and hung together with the seven ears of paddy on a bamboo pole to be left in the paddy fields until the harvesting is finished. This symbolizes the ideal integration of all the seven spiritual components of the mystical body of Huminodun in Bambarayon and is referred to as Toguruon meaning "the One that many join for completion and fulfillment".

Essentially, this is the holistic rice soul (Sunduan do Parai), Bambarayon in its Seven-in-One complete form. This is the reason why the Bobolians have recommended that the Toguruon be used as Symbol of the Kaamatan Festival. As soon as harvesting is completed the Toguruon is put inside a basket, brought home and placed on top of paddy tangkobs or torutips granaries.

Kaamatan Rites
Through the Kaamatan Rites, the Kadazandusuns maintain their socio-spiritual practices of:
  •  Momulangga to establish and maintain peace and harmony
  •  Miulung to share their harvest and express their self-determination
  •  Magavau & Moginakan to receive holy communion by consuming new rice and drinking new rice wine, which in essence is Divine Huminodun herself
  •  Mominodun to beatify Huminodun in Unduk Ngadau
  •  Monugandoi to sing praise and thanksgiving to Kinoingan
  •  Monoguli & Monolimbagu to renew and live a better way of life
  •  Mononglumaag to usher health and prosperity.

By the observance of the principle of kakatiu,every Kaamatan Festival celebrant must feast according to his or her needs, and forbidden to glut and waste any of the offerings served.To waste food and/or to get drunk and lose one’s composure during Kaamatan Festival is regarded as dishonor and sacrilege to Huminodun for which the guilty will have to face both the Kadazandusun Hukum Adat (Traditional Laws) and socio-spiritual justice from Libabou.

Over the years, the Kaamatan Festival has evolved and transformed into an epitome expression of the multi-cultural souls of the indigenous peoples of Sabah. Throughout the month of May, Kaamatan celebrations are held annually at the family, village, district and State levels.

Kaamatan Festival Month Launching

On May 1st of each year, the Kaamatan Festival Month of May is launched from a pre-chosen district in Sabah. This ensures the participation in action by the numerous ethnic communities within and around the Kaamatan launching district to promote their unique cultural heritage as well as multi-cultural peace, understanding and harmony.

Kaamatan Finale

Comes 30th and 31st of May, Sabah’s indigenous peoples, domestic and foreign tourists, and people from all walks of life commune at the Cultural Unity Center (Hongkod Koisaan) for the final days of the Kaamatan Festival celebration.The natives put on their finest traditional costumes displaying a rich potpourri of cultural attires, designs, motives and colors.Hands reaching hands in friendship, all celebrants, guests and visitors alike are welcomed; new relationships are established, while past and current brotherhood are renewed and further strengthened among peoples of all races, creed and cultural traditions in the true spirit of Kaamatan.

Kaamatan Festival at National Level

The year 2001 of the new millennium marks yet another milestone in the Kaamatan Festival’s history. For the first time Kaamatan Festival is being celebrated at the National Level with financial allocations from the Federal Government. It now depends on all Malaysians to make Kaamatan as the newest opportunity and venue for the multi-cultural expressions of their harmonious unity in diversity at national level.

National Kaamatan Festival Open House

Besides this the Federal Government has since last year also begun to organize the National Level Kaamatan Open House celebration, where local culinary delights, beverages, cultural arts and performances continue to be encouraged to be promoted.

Traditional Music and Dances

To the multi-sounds and tempo of traditional music, multi-ethnic cultural dances are performed to show guests and visitors the rhythm of life that they too can experience for a moment in time by their participation in action.

Traditional Sports

Outside the main hall, traditional sports are held such as: Mipulos (Arm Wrestling), Mipadsa (Knuckle Wrestling), Monopuk (Blow Piping), Momolositik (Catapulting) and Migayat Lukug (Tug of War), never failing to amuse and entertain the cheering crowd of spectators.

Multi-ethnic Traditonal House Receptions

At the various traditional houses with ethnic designs, appointed judges struggle to maintain their soberness as they judge the creative decorations, arrays of cultural artifacts and the cultural reception of guests into each of the ethnic houses

Local Handicrafts Sales Exhibition

All around are cheap sales of local products, where one can have the best of choices and great bargains in purchasing the finest native handicrafts direct from the producers themselves.

Agronomy & Industrial Products Sales Exhibition

Government and private sectors, farmers, industrialists and artisans converge to exhibit and sell their products making up a lively Kaamatan Trade Fair.

Kaamatan multi-ethnic Culinary and Beverage Delights

For those who would rather have Kaamatan as a feast day, numerous varieties of unique traditional food and beverages await them. There is the Linongot, Ombuyat, Borot, Soko Kinapa, Hinava, Tivak Kinapa, Kulupis, Tuhau and Sambal Mangga; the various local deserts and delectable rice and coconut wines -- tapai, bahar, lihing and montokou for drinks, all completely free for as long as they last. The only forbidden thing is to glut, to waste, and to lose self-discipline in drunkenness.

Huminodun’s Beatification in Unduk Ngadau

At noontime, something stirs to move the crowd towards the main hall packing it to its full capacity. But of course, who would want to miss the main highlight of the Kaamatan Festival -- the moment of beatification of Huminodun in Unduk Ngadau.Lest we forget, the Unduk Ngadau Queen selection is never meant to be just another of those Beauty Queen Contests. Here, feminine sensuality and bold exhibitions of the physical endowments of contestants do not determine the winner.

Beyond physical beauty, concealed in piety and attired decently in full traditional costumes, the Unduk Ngadau must satisfy the judges that in her most natural self she portrays the best potentials to resemble beatified Huminodun, the Kadazandusun Queen of love and compassion, the ultimate symbol of perfection and purity, as reflected in the ancient Momolian Rinaits:

"Were your beauty light, it would be as the blazing sun, and my eyes would not withstand to gaze at your transfigured face; Were your piety and might measurable in terms of height,Tthey would reach the noon sun and yet stand firm and upright; For you are divine, symbol of perfection, purity and sacrificial love. "In the words of the Late Bobolian Odu Miada Gumarong: "Kohunduk do tadau kabalangkason di Huminodun", which means, "The radiance of Huminodun’s beauty is such that it can shame the eyeball of the sun and cause it to drop"

Once crowned, the reigning Unduk Ngadau is expected to be about the will and ways of Huminodun for a year, living an exemplary lifestyle in caring and serving the less fortunate, championing causes for the poor and the needy and doing other benevolent work deemed attributes of Huminodun.Comes the next Kaamatan Festival, the Unduk Ngadau Crown, along with its honor, dignity and responsibilities will then be passed on to the new Unduk Ngadau and thereafter to the lines of succeeding future Unduk Ngadaus, to keep alive always, Huminodun’s divinity in Unduk Ngadau, in Paddy and humanity itself.

Huminodun’s Everlasting Kaamatan Message

Huminodun’s message, soft and gentle, shall always be the highest joyful thoughts, the clearest words of truth and the profoundest feelings of love.To understand Huminodun as Soul of Unduk Ngadauis to understand the Kaamatan Festival;Huminodun is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow…So too, Unduk Ngadau will always be -- The Soul of Kaamatan,Enduring where and when all else perish, like Love endures, For Huminodun in Unduk Ngadau is Love. The numerous indigenous ethnic groups are divided into three main families - Dusunic, Murutic and Paitanic - in addition to several other groups. Of these, there are around 30 who produce rice and therefoce celebrate the kaamatan.

From the Dusunic family, they are the Kadazandusun (From Penampang, Ranau, Tambunan, part of Keningau, Papar, Membakut and also Tindal Dusun of Kota Belud), The Rungus, Kimaragang, Tabilong, Tatana, Bisaya, Kwijau, Lotud and Eastern (Labuk) Kadazan. The Murutic family includes Tahol, Timogun, Gana, Nabay, Bookan, Paluan, Okolod, Kalabakan and other. While the Paitanic family consists of the Orang Sungai groups of the upper Kinabatangan, The Tombonuo, Abai Sungai and Lobu.Each has its own name for the harvest rituals and festivals.

The Rungus Call it moginakan, the Kadazandusun refet to it as kokotuan, kaamatan or moginakan while the Timogun Murut name it orou napangaan nanantob.The indigenous groups mentioned above are mainly farmers who are predominantly wet and hill rice cultivators, living on the northern and western coastal plains and the area around Mt. Kinabalu, with the east coast. The Murutic groups live in the deep interoprs of Sabah and areas bordering Sarawak and Kelimantan. Until recently they were remote and isolatedsubsistence formers, practising swidden agriculture and hunting.

The animistic religious system of the Kadazandusun centres largely on their staple food, rice, and rituals to maintain the balance and harmony between man an his environment to provide conditions for successful rice cultivation and harvest. Rice is an important source in creating wealth and status in the traditional societies. Though modernisation and conversion to other faiths have removed or diminished many of the religious customs and practices, those which continue to be practised are considered definite features of the Kadazandusun identity.

BACKGROUND OF THE KAAMATAN OR HARVEST FESTIVAL

Since time immemorial, the Kaamatan has been celebrated by every Kanazandusun famiy ini their homes and villages to thank the sprit of padi, the Bambarayon/Baambazon/ Toguruwon for a bountiful hervest and to pray to their Creator Kinoingan for another abundant hervest the coming year. Said to take place on the first sighting of the full moon sawang afther the rice harvest, the Kaamatan usually lasts two to three days. To understand the Kaamatan, one must look at activity of padi cultivation of the Kadazandusun which is bound up with their rligious beliefs. Historically, rice cultivation is the lifework of the Kadazandusun. Its cultivation is primarily of the Kadazandusun's family needa as well as to fulfil spiritual obligations, and is not for sale.

Generally, during the riceproduction cycle and including the harvest festival celebration, the villages in the kampong or villages practice mitatabang. This describes the spirit of co-opeation among the villages in the production of rice. From the clearing of the land for padi cultivation, to planting, keeping vigilance and maintanance of the fields and reaping the harvest, the villagers labour as a team in turns to do all of the work. A kind of calendar is set up whereby each family would know their turn to do certain tasks. Everyone works for the common good. Ritual ceremonies are held almost daily and in turns.

At these ceremonies, the house owner has to provide a feast for the occasion. The villagers who have taken part in the arduous tasks of the day come together at his or her house owner but the almost daily get-together for ritual ceremonies reinforces. their relationship with one another and their shared responsibilities in the production of rice for themselves as well as for spiritual purposes. Padi cultivation is full of spiritual significance for the Kaamatan becouse they believe that rice has a spirit and thus padi or rice is always treated with respect.

In the rice production districts of papar and Putatan, it has been recorded that the traditional rice ceremonies are very elaborate. These rites extend from the planting to hervest, the first five being to ensure the well-being of the crop in its successive stages, and the sixth being in its successive stages, and the sixth being the hervest festival (see accompanying article on Papar Ceremonies, 1895).

In the Papar tradition (witnessed in 1920 by Rutter), the sixth ceremony called togongok takes places when all the rice has been stored. The whole village is in celebration in joyous thanks giving. Heirlooms of bamboo musical instruments are brought out and beaten in rhythm to produce high notes supplied by the smaller bamboos and deep pitches from the longger ones. The older the bamboos are , the more they are volued and the better the tones they produce. Neighbouring villages are called to join in the festivities, which include mock fights, drinking, dancing and eating. A few days later, the guests reciprocate by having the hosts over to their village for a 'return match'.

In the district of Penampang, the rice crop is checked before the harvest may begin. A priestess or bobohizan goes to check the rice heads in the padi field. If teh crop is ready to be hervested,, she will select seven of the best rice heads and leave them in a protected area where they will remain until the rest of the crop is harvested. Sometime a protective ring of lesser rice plants is left around these seven stalks. When the hervest is completes, these remaining heads are cut and brought ceremoniously to the home of the owner of the rice field. This symbolises the homecoming of the rice spirit bambarayon or bambaazon which is believed to take up residence in the rice barn. The hervested rice is then stored in a circular bin made of tree bark called tangkob inside the barn.

The monogit pa'ai is then performed. This is a ritual procession of several female bobohizan led and followed by a male each holding a ceremonial sword. Each woman holds onto the shoulders of the person in front of her and chants ritual verses called magavau (see accompanying article "Magavau - Highlight of the Kaamatan") to summon home "missing" parts of the men trimphantly cry out -this is called pangkis. It is said that the magavau of the olden days was carried out in the padi field on the night of the first full moon afther the harvest. It is accompanied by offerings of rice grains, pickkled fish, eggs, salt, fermented rice, a sacrificial chicken and chicken feathers.

In the Tambunan district, the men organise group hunts to have sufficient meat for the harvest celebration while the women brew rice wine ore tapai. During the celebration, the magawau is performend by priestesses called bobolian in the rice field. The priestesses chat to the rice spirit, which is thereafther followed by the harvest celebration of eating, drinking and magarang dancing to gong music.

Meanwhile, the Lotud Dusun of Tuaran do not have large-scale feasting and merriment un the their rice ceremonies, even afther the harvest, The are eight ceremonies at the time of the rice hervest. One of them, monuras take place in the padi field where a iglet is scrificed. While the rite is being carried out in the field, priestesses calledtatagas then perform the ceremonical traditional art of self-defence called bosilat in owner's house. Only one night of celebration occurs which involves consuming soup and dringking bahar or coconut toddy.

The Timogun Murut in the interior of Sabah celebrate a harvest festival which they call orou napangaan nanantab. However, the actual nae for the festival afther the harvesting season is ansisia. Perior to the community celebration, each Murut family will donate some rice to the headman or leader of teh community for making into tapai or as cooked rice during the feast. One cane also donate money to buy meat and fish and other food. On the eve of the mansisia gfestival, all the people will atted a banquet in the tulus or longhouse or house of the leader of the village.The next day, the mansisia is celebrated with many activities. The highlights is the tapai dringking session called pansisiaan. It is customary for all the villages to dring the tapai.

The mansisia celebration is a time of thanksgiving for the harvest and to partake of every neighbour,s contribution to the feast. All fermers enjoy a day off to watch and participate in the dance, music, drink tapai and other activities.The Murut Tahol (Tagol) called their festival napangaan nongotom/nalaparan. Traditionally it was celebrated between two to seven days. The festival is ce;ebrated on a moderate scale today in turn in every village and on a larger scale at the district level. There will be sspecial guests, cock fighting and a tapai dringking session in the evenings. The dringking session is enlivened with the lansaran (a spring platform for dancing) gamnmes. The menfolk will stand in the centre of the lansaran will the womenfolk go round at the edge of it, all the while singing in succession.

The Rungus, like their Kadazandusun counterparts believe in the bambarayon or the spirit of rice. They also have various ceremonies during the cycle of rice producation. When a boutiful harvest is reaped, they honour bambarayon by a series of ritulas conducted by priestesses called bobolian. Mogigigivit or mongulok is held in the rice fielda to thanks the rice spirit where chickens are sacriticed. The ceremony continues to a special storage hut where the newly harvested padi is kept. Hre, prayers are chanted and each participant drinks some tapai or rice wine.

Another ceremony called the magahau is also performed as part of the harvest rites. In this thanksgiving rite, pigs are sacrificed and the blood is used to ritually cleanse household tools, jars and gongs, which tey belived are inhabited by spirits. The pigs are then prepared for cooking. Treditional dishes cooked from yam stalks, young benana pith, fresh water snails, fish, rice and tapai are then served to celebrate the harvest. To round it off, aritual dance called the mongigol sumundai is performed along the corridor of the lounghouse where nightlong festivities take place.

There is another celebration among the Kadazandusun called moginakan that is like the "mother of all celebrations". This take place on in five or seven years. It is to celebrate all harvests, not only of padi. This celebration is usually hosted by the wealthy who own many jars,entensive padi fields and proeesee more money. The moginakan is a relatively costly feast involving large crowds and many bobolian. Those who come to celebrate are realtives, friends and neighbours from far and nar. The moginakan becomes a meeting place to reinforce family and ethnic ties and traditions besides giving thanks to Kinoingan for a beautiful harvest.

The bobolian as they are called in Tambunan or bobolian in Penampang or tantagas in Tuaran are vitually all female priestesses or ritual specialists. Amongs the Rungus and Kadazandsusn from Papar, men may also occasionally be skilled as ritualists. Becoming one takes many years of apprenticeship. One must learn to chat all the long ritual verses or rinait (in a ritual language) which recount the creation of the world, the action of the deities, migrations of people and the rationale behind socisl and cultural more and morals. Spirit mediumship is also a prerequisite for becoming a ritual specilalist in most communities.

Traditionally, the Kadazandusun community in Sabah celebrated their harvest festivals at their respective kampung or village. However, as the harvesting time differed from location to location, there was no differed from location to location, there was no fixed or standard day for celebrating. It was not untik 1956 that the idea of elevating it to a district and state level celebration was mooted by the Keningau Native Chief, OKK (Orang Kaya-Kaya) Sodomon. OKK Sodomon tabled his proposal on 5-7 November 1956.at the 6th Annual Native Chiefs Conference. He wanted to have the local government officially recognise the Hervest Festival.

The proposal was for a three-day holiday at the various districts of the Kadazandusun and Murut communities. The manner of celebration was left to the individual districts. The proposal was debated and agreed upko. The dates for the celebrations were fixed for 24, 25, and 26 April of each year, irrespective of a full moon sighting or sawang.The "stste" level celebration was not adopted untile June 1960. Though the efforts of the Society of Kadazans in Penampang, Particularly thelate Tun Fuad Stephens, the Native Harvest Festivel Holiday celebration wasapproved and declared by the goverment. If would not restricted to the bnatives of Sabah alone, but to all "who use the good earth of Sabah for growing their food". The news was heartily welcomed by many indigenous groups all over Sabah. Two days were set aside for the annual celebration. Thus, on the 30th June to 1st Juky 1960, the first State-wide Kaamatan or Native Harvest Festival as it was called then was held. The fist celebration Kaamatan began in Penampang, on the morning of 30th June 1960, with a High Mass and a percession of the Holy Euchharist in the nearby St. Michael's Church.

Through the missionary efforts of the St. Joseph's Foreign Mission Society of Mill Hill, quite a number of Kadazandusun were converted to Roman Catholicism, particularly in Penampang, Papar and Putatan. The Papar mission was founded in 1881, followed by Putatan.When the State-wide Kaamatan was celebrated in Penampang in 1960, a size able number of Kadazandusun there were Catholic Christmas and it was then not not suprising to find some Catholic elements included in their celebration.Fourteen villages or Kampung in the district participents in the celebration, which was held at the field or padang of the St. Michael's. School.

Traditional dance and music were perfomed. State and community keaders from various districtrs of Sabah attended the festivel. Three buffaloes were sloughtered to feed the crowd and over a hundred jars of tapai felowed to quench the people's thirst. There was non-stop dancing of the sumazau to vbeauty queen contest or Unduk Ngadau, Orang Tua (elders) and Native Chief,s Traditional Dress Competitions, traditional games and football matches.The first North Borneo lavel Kaamatan was a significant step towards achieving greater uniyt of the native peoples. Its major impact on the Society of Kadazans Penampangresulted in the formation of a new Kdazan Cultural Association (KCA) to incorporate other indigenous groups such as Dusuns, Muruts, Rungus and other.

From the first state Harvest Festival, the KCAQ organised subsequent festivals celebrated annually. Since the festival have changed in response to requests from members thoughout the State. The shifthing or venues allowed for greater participation and involvement of the various indigenous groups at the areas concerned in the organisation of the Festivel. However, roving venues proved to be costly and the different dates each year impractical for organising the Harvest Festival. In 1986, the KCA resolved to have the dates of the Kaamatan fixed for the 30th and 31st May each year. 1st May would be the launching of the month-long Kaamatan to begin at the district and kampung level which would climax with the State level celebration on the 30th and 31st May.

At the 1986 biannual Congress of the KCA, the name Kaamatan for the Festival was formally adopted. It was felt that the name Kaamatan more aptly reflected the celebration, which was basically a festival after the harvest. Since then the festival was been called Pesta Kaamatan or Kaamatan Festivel.On 22nd february 1989, the KCA resolved to also fix the venue for the State level Kaamatan. The decision was made based on the cost factor and the fact that Kota Kinabalu is the gateway for the tourism industry in the State. The Hongkod Koisaan ("Unity Centre") or the Kadazan Cultural Centre Building at Penampang not far from Kota Kinabalu was then chosen as the venue.

Nevertheless, since the Kaamatan is a goverment-funded event, the organisation of the festivel has in recent years been taken overby the a State-level Committee headed by aMinister and assisted by various bodies anf agencies such as the Sabah Museum. Since 1996, the venue has also moved to another venue, the Sabah Cultural Centre at Dongonggon, Penampang.The Kaamatan Festival has become not only a turist event and attraction, but significantly, it continues as a celebration of acient traditions and culture, which is unique traditions and culture, which is groups involved, the coming together once a year strengthens bonds with other races and reinforces their ethnic identity.

Rice-wine competitions, tradisoonal dance competitions, cultural shows, singing contests, the mangavau ceremony and unduk ngadau or Harvest Queen competition.MagavauMagavau or maga'au in the context of the Kaamatan refers to the orduous task of the bobohizan or priestesses in searching and recovering, as well as bringing home the lost , stolen or strayed bambaazon or rice spirits. As babaazon is believed to be embodied in very part and form of rice, it is imperative that the main mystical body of bambaazon is intact or whole. Strayed, lost and stolen rice spirits can occur when pests and natural disasters strike the rice plants or due to the carelessness of man during the harvesting, transportation, winnowing, punding or miling prosesses of padi. Children can also affect the bambaazon's well-being if they throw away rice wine to waste.

When the bobohizan cuts the first ear of ripened padi to mark the beginning of the harvest, she recites a long beckong prayer to invite the mambaazon to return home to the household's rice barn to reside untile the next season when the rice gains are needed for planting in the nursery. When harvesting is done and the padi is winnowed and stored in he barns, many parts of the bambaazon's mystical body are still believed to be scattered far and near.The babohizan are therefore summoned to perform the magavau. The magavau may be performed at the household level. If it is performed at the village or communal lavel, it is more elaborately planned by the elders comprising the headman, chief bobohizan and an informal council of elders. The date chosen for the magavau should be soon afther the newly heaversted rice has been stored in the barns or better yet, coincide with the first full moon apperance, as in the old days.

In the old days, te magavau wsa performed in the rice fields. The chief bobohizan and her entourage would leave their communal long houses and walk though the harvested rice fields to serch, salvage and gather back any strayed bambaazon and plead for their return to the main body.The magavau is enacted in the annual Kaamatan celebrations. The ritual dance, which comprises of male and female bobohizan depicts the part where they leave their houses to begin their journey to the open rice fields in the full moonlit night.They form an unbroken line, with the man in the front waving their warrior swords to symbolise their determination to flight if necessary in order to recover the lost part of bambaazon. Each women holds on to the shoulders of the one in front of her and chants ritual verses beckoning the stray bambaazon to return home. When one is recovered the man cry out trimphantly - This is called pangkis.

The procession of babohizan is an unbrokhen line to ensure orderliness (in the open fields to prevent stumbling) and to maintain a oneness in spirit when deep in prayar.When one bobohizan has to answer nature's call, the one behind her has to immediately move up to replace her position by puttiing her hands on the shoulders of the one front her.

The ritual parphernalia used in the magavau ceremony are:

  • A Piece of bamboo or sanggoh.
  • 7 pieces of young coconut or ngiur leaves coconut shell or hosungon or babaung.
  • Some fermented wine or tapai on a piece of simpur leaf.
  • A branch of lemon leavers or Kohopis leaves or limau kapas.
  • A CombA few drops of coconut oil
  • A bunch of hamba leaves for fixing the hair
  • A suonggoh plant
  • A winnowing tray or Tapan hihibuh
  • 3 gantang riceA bowl of pickled fish or hamak
  • A piece of banana flower
  • Few slices ginger
  • Few slices lime or kohopis
  • A Basket
  • A grass mat or bundusan
  • Some rice wine or tapairice wine or toddy or tuak

UNDUK NGADAU

During the Kaamatan Festival, a beauty queen, Unduk Ngadau is selected in a pageant that is the highlight of the celebration. Unduk or tunduk literally means the shoot of a plant while ngadau or tadau means the noondy sun. Taken together, Unduk Ngadau refers to the sun at this brightest, representing the zenith of youth where beauty transcends physical attributes, where sterling qualities of strength, beauty, courage and love are unrivalled and at their peak. When translated to the Unduk Ngadau beauty pageant that takes placea in the Kaamatan celibration, the beauty queen selected from the "fairest" of them all has deeper significance than what is apparent.

The origin of the Unduk Ngadau lies in the Kadazandusun legend of Huminodun or Ponompuan (also known by various other names), Kinoingan,s only beloved daughter who was sacrificed to become food for the people (See accompanying article on the Legend og Rice). Her body parts were transformed into food - her head gave rise to coconut, her flesh - padi, her blood -red rice, her fingers - ginger, her teeth - maize, her knee - yams and other parts to form avariety herself to save the homans her mother had created. it is thus her noble qualities of courage, compassion, her beauty and sacrifice that the Unduk Ngadau is ideally based.

The beauty queen is said to represent or meant to embody all of these qualities or come close o personifying the mythical Huminodun as the ideal woman.The bobohizans of Penampang recite Huminodun in their inait or ritual prayers:Were you beauty light,if would be as the blazing sun,And my ayes would not withstandto gazeAt your transfiguared face...Were you piety and might,Measurable in terms of height,If would reach the noon sun,And yet stand firm and upright..."The origin of the Unduk Ngadau pageant owes much to the original costume competitions which were held at the village and district leval festivals.

In 1958, the Society of Kadazans decided to develop a cultural beauty pageant for woman. At that time, it was felt that young unmarried Kadazandusun women were very shy, and that prading in public in their traditional costumes would help them to overcome their shyness. This item became a regular feature of Harvest Festivals thereafter.District level winners would represent their districts at the state level. The state level competition is usually held on the second (main) day of the festival. As one of the many conditions, all beauty queen contestants in the pageant must wear an authentic traditional costume from one of the cultures in the district they represent. The winner of the peageant is also required to undertake some form of charity work in the district she represents for one after her crowning.


prepared by : Nisha

Friday, October 14, 2005

WAYANG KULIT


THE ART OF SHADOW PLAY


- A spell binding medium for storytelling, the wayang kulit is a traditional theatre form that brings together the playfulness of a puppet show, and the elusive quality and charming simplicity of a shadow play.

- Its origin remains a mystery, though it appears to have a strong Javenese and Hindu influence.

- Today, it spread out, in various forms and guises, across Asia - Turkey and China to Indonesia and of course, Malaysia.

- Here, it is most popular in the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, particularly in Kelantan, the heartland of Wayang Kulit, where it took root mere than 250 years ago.

- There used to be 4 main varieties of the form in this country, the Wayang Kulit Siam of Kelantan, the Wayang Gedek, performed by the Thai communities of Kedah and Perlis, the Wayang Kulit Jawa, performed by the Javanese communities in Selangor and Johor, and the Wayang Kulit Melayu, performed by the Javenese communities of Terengganu.

- Now only the first two are performed.

- Wayang Kulit of Siam is the most indigenous of these styles. It is principally performed in the state of Kelantan.

- Wayang kulit Siam makes use of a local version of the Indian epic, Ramayana.

- Existing only in the oral tradition, this version is known as Hikayat Maharaja Wana.

- The Hikayat Seri Rama provides material for the principal story (cerita pokok).

- Local extensions of and accresions to the epic have resulted in the creation of a large number of Ramayana branch stories (cerita ranting).

- These have traditionally been more popular than the pokok story.

- The wayang kulit siam orchestra consists of a pair of double-headed drums (gendang), a pair of single-headed goblet-shaped drums known as gedumbak, a pair or vertically standing drums (gedug) hit with beaters, a pair of hand small cymbals, (kesi) and a pair of inverted gongs (canang), also beaten with sticks, and, finally, a pair of hanging knobbed gongs (tetawak).

- Wayang kulit siam performances are done in two varieties:
(a) those done purely for entertainment and
(b) those intended for ritual purposes such as the salutation of teachers
(sembah guru).

- Ritual performances, known as wayang kulit berjamu, are extremely rare. They incorporate a host of ritual activities as well as trance.

BY HAIZAN

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

CHINESE NEW YEAR FESTIVAL

Celebrated by the Chinese community, Chinese New Year occurs usually during mid-January to mid-February. 2006 is the Year of the Dog. January 29, 2006 is the first day of the New Year.

PREPARATION:
Although the climax of Chinese New Year’s celebration generally only last for four or five days including the eve, the New Year season actually started from early twelfth month of the previous year to the middle of the first month of the New Year. Preparations begin about a month before Chinese New Year, where the Chinese community will be busy shopping for decoration materials, food and drinks, new clothing, groceries and titbits.

A major clean up of the house will be carried out, hoping to sweep away any traces of bad luck to make way for the wishful in-coming good luck and fortune. After that, the house is ready to be decorated with paper scrolls and couplets inscribed with blessings and auspicious words like happiness, longevity, and wealth.

REUNION DINNER:
On the Chinese New Year's Eve, grand banquets are prepared in each household. The luxurious dishes at this dinner all have auspicious meanings. Few days before the eve of Chinese New Year, people living far away from their families will begin to prepare for their journey home. Traffic jams will start to build up on highways while airports, bus terminals, and train stations are normally packed. Tickets are usually being snapped up the moment they go on sale. No matter how tiring the journey may turn out to be, it is certainly worth it when all the family members have gathered around the table to enjoy their Chinese New Year’s eve dinner (or reunion dinner), the most important meal of the year. Usually everyone will go back to the parents house or the eldest in the family.

CHINESE NEW YEAR:
On the first day of Chinese New Year, ritual homage is offered to one’s ancestors and reverence is paid to the gods. New clothes are worn and younger family members will greet their elders “Kong Xi Fatt Chai” (in Mandarin) or “Kong Hei Fatt Choi” (in Cantonese), meaning, “congratulations and prosperity”. In return, they will receive “Ang Pow”, a red packet containing cash. It is given by married couples to children and singles.

VISITING:
During Chinese New Year’s day and several days that follow, the Chinese will hold open houses. This is the time when relatives and friends, regardless of their races and religions, will visit one another, exchanging good wishes and gifts like tangerines (called “Kam” in Cantonese, meaning “Gold”) and other traditional New Year’s delicacies.

SEVENTH DAY:
The seventh day of Chinese New Year is known as “everybody’s birthday”. On this day, the Chinese will eat “Yee Sang”, a combination of pickled ginger, shredded vegetables, lime, raw fish and various sauces. This meal is believed to bring prosperity and good fortune to those who eat it. The participants will mix and raise the ingredients with their chopsticks. They believe the higher they are able to raise them, the greater the prosperity they will enjoy throughout the year.

EIGHTH DAY:
On the eighth day, the Hokkien community will have another family reunion. At midnight, they will pray to “Tian Gung”, the God of Heaven.

NINTH DAY:
On the ninth day, numerous offerings are set out in the forecourt or central courtyard of temples to celebrate the birthday of the Jade Emperor.

CHAP GOH MEH:
The 15th day is Chap Goh Mei. It marks the end of Chinese New Year’s celebration. The highlight of Chap Goh Meh, which is often regarded as the Chinese Valentine's day, has got to be the throwing of oranges into the river. It is believed that maidens would attract good husbands if they adhere to this practice.

OPEN HOUSE (NATIONAL):
As festivities in Malaysia are celebrated by ALL communities, the open house concept bears testimony to the fact that tolerance and mutual respect are evidently observed in this multi-racial country. In fact, this is a very unique practice in Malaysia that symbolises the unique diversity of culture and religion here. Like other major celebrations in the country, Chinese New Year is also celebrated at national level where open house will be held. Malaysians, as well as tourists around the world, are welcome to join in the celebration of this auspicious event. There will be an array of local delicacies for all the guests, cultural show and other performances.

The Chingay parade adds to the festive atmosphere with stilt walkers, lion and dragon dances, acrobats, and dozens of decorated floats taking to the streets amidst the clashing of cymbals and beating of gongs and drums. Penang is the place to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

BY WENDY