Malaysia is a nation of diverse cultures and customs, and that includes some of the world’s weirdest traditions. From the rainforest-dwelling orang asli of Sabah and Sarawak to the ethnic Malays who inhabit the peninsula, each culture has its own unique set of customs that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Here are 10 of the weirdest traditions in Malaysia that you may not have heard of before.
1. Pi Mai: The Thai New Year
Pi Mai, or the Thai New Year, is celebrated in Malaysia every April by the Thai-Buddhist communities in the north of the country. The festival is marked with traditional water fights and the giving of alms to monks. During the celebrations, locals also take part in a ritual known as “lights of the heart”, where they light candles and pray for the prosperity and health of their families.
2. The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts
The Festival of the Hungry Ghosts, or the Ghost Festival, is celebrated by Chinese Malaysians at the seventh lunar month of the year. During the festival, offerings are made to the spirits of the dead, in the hopes that they will be appeased and ward off bad luck. It’s believed that during this month, ghosts are allowed to roam freely on earth.
3. The Rainforest Festival
The Rainforest Festival is celebrated in Sarawak every year and is a celebration of the unique and diverse rainforest culture of the region. During this festival, traditional dances, music and costumes are performed, and locals take part in activities such as river rafting and bird watching.
4. The “Tiger Dance”
The “Tiger Dance” is an age-old custom in parts of Malaysia, particularly in the northern states. The dance involves a group of men dressed in traditional costumes and masks that mimic the movements of a tiger. The dance is said to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.
5. The “Bobohizan” Ritual
The Bobohizan ritual is celebrated by the orang asli of the Malaysian rainforest. During this ritual, a woman who is believed to have special spiritual powers, known as a “Bobohizan”, performs a ritual that is supposed to bring good luck. The ritual includes dancing and singing, and the use of traditional instruments.
6. The Firewalking Ceremony
The Firewalking Ceremony is a ritual practiced by some Malaysian communities in an effort to bring good luck and ward off evil. During the ceremony, a person will walk across a bed of hot coals without being burned. It is believed that this act will bring good luck and prosperity.
7. The Harvest Festival
The Harvest Festival is celebrated by many Malaysian communities, especially in the rural areas. During this festival, locals give thanks for the year’s harvest and pray for a prosperous year ahead. They also take part in traditional activities such as singing, dancing and the consumption of traditional dishes.
8. The “Nyepi” Ritual
The Nyepi ritual is celebrated by the ethnic Malays of Malaysia. During the ritual, all lights are turned off and people stay indoors while they reflect on the past year and pray for the future. The ritual is meant to be a time of introspection and peace.
9. The “Gemuruh” Ritual
The “Gemuruh” ritual is a traditional dance performed by the orang asli of the Malaysian rainforest. During the ritual, the participants move in a circle and chant in a low voice as they move their hands and feet to the beat of drums. It is believed that this ritual will bring good luck and ward off evil.
10. The “Raja Kecil” Ceremony
The “Raja Kecil” ceremony is a traditional ceremony practiced by the Malays of Malaysia. During the ceremony, young boys are chosen to be the “Raja Kecil”, or the Little King. The boys are dressed in traditional costumes and they are given gifts, while they are blessed and praised by the elders of the community.
These are just some of the weirdest traditions practiced in Malaysia. Despite their weirdness, these customs are deeply rooted in the culture of the country and provide an interesting insight into the unique customs of the Malaysian people