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Culture and Creativity

Siniawan’s Unique Dragon Lantern Illuminates Sarawak

In a remarkable demonstration of creativity, Siniawan in Sarawak distinguished itself by setting a record for the longest-hanging dragon lantern decoration in Sarawak at 298 feet for the Chinese New Year.

Siniawan is a small town in the Bau district with a population total of about 3,600 people, with the majority being Bidayuh. Located 21km away from Kuching city, it is famous for its Siniawan Night Market, where they promote their traditions and cultures.

This achievement, as announced by Serembu assemblyman Miro Simuh, underscores the town’s unique identity. He also emphasized the town’s exceptional unity despite its diverse ethnic and religious background, stating, “Here lies the uniqueness of our Siniawan town. Despite our diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, we come together to celebrate every Chinese New Year, Christmas, and Hari Raya. This is our uniqueness—a small place where we strive to give our best to every visitor.”

The ceremony, witnessing traditional performances such as lion dances, marked the official inauguration of the locally crafted dragon head and decoration, which took a month of preparation.

The community was encouraged to capture the moment through photos and share them widely to inspire more people to witness the beauty of the dragon and lantern decoration, which stretches to the cricket field. Siniawan’s record-setting dragon lantern decoration not only stands as a testament to the town’s creativity and dedication but also serves as a beacon of unity and celebrations, bringing people from diverse backgrounds together in the joyous spirit of festivities.

Malaysia’s Karipap Ranked Fifth Best Pastry in the World

TasteAtlas has ranked Karipap, a popular breakfast and afternoon snack, as the fifth in top 100 best pastry globally. It has rated Karipap as the #2 best deep-fried dish globally, the #5 best pastry worldwide, and the #8 best snack globally.

A comment on the website praises it as “one of the greatest Kuih in the world! Savory taste that excites the taste buds.”

Also known as curry puff, this small, deep-fried, or baked pastry shell is filled with thick chicken and potatoes. Its popularity extends beyond Malaysia to neighboring countries like Singapore and Thailand. The famous pastry can be found anywhere, especially on the side of the road being sold by the locals

Renowned for its flavorful and straightforward profile, Karipap offers a variety of fillings, including tuna, sardines, and beef rendang, in addition to the traditional potato and chicken curry.

This is not the first time Malaysian food has been ranked globally in TasteAtlas. Roti Canai, the traditional flatbread made with flour, water, eggs, and fat is rated as the #1 best-rated bread in the world, #2 best-rated breakfast in the world, and #4 best-rated snack in the world.

Melaka and George Town: UNESCO Cultural Heritage Gems Along the Straits of Malacca

Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca, earned recognition as UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to their rich historical and cultural influences shaped by their former roles as important trading ports connecting the East and West.

These cities stand as the most comprehensive surviving historic centers along the Straits of Malacca, reflecting a multicultural living heritage rooted in trade routes from Great Britain and Europe through the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and the Malay Archipelago to China.

Both Melaka and George Town serve as living testaments to the multicultural heritage and traditions of Asia, where various religions and cultures intersected and coexisted.

Both of the cities exemplify multicultural trading towns in East and Southeast Asia, shaped by the interaction of Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures and three successive European colonial powers over nearly 500 years.

Each era has left imprints on the architecture, urban layout, technology, and monumental art of these towns. Showcasing different stages of development and successive changes over an extended period, both towns complement each other in their historical narrative.

Melaka and George Town are also living witnesses to the multicultural heritage of Asia and the influence of European colonialism. The evidence of multiculturalism can be seen in the diverse array of religious buildings, ethnic quarters, languages, worship practices, festivals, dance, costumes, art, music, and daily life.

The cities also reflect a fusion of influences, creating unique architecture, culture, and townscapes in East and South Asia.

Mendriq: A Language Lost in Time

According to Language experts who were interviewed by Bernama, the Mendriq language could become extinct in 20 years if no serious efforts are taken to preserve it; meaning that Malaysia might lose another one of its cultures.

To save the language from extinction, 20 villagers from the Mendriq Orang Asli in Kampung Kuala Lah were involved in a project to input Mendriq words and their meanings in Bahasa Melayu into the online multilingual dictionary Wiktionary. The aim of Wikimedia Community User Group Malaysia (Wikimedia Malaysia) is to preserve the Mendriq language.
Mendriq is one of the sub-groups of Orang Asli Negrito that can only be found in Kelantan. Currently, they live in three locations namely Kampung Lah in Gua Musang Kampung Pasir Linggi, and Sungai Tako in Kuala Krai. In Peninsular Malaysia, there are three groups of Orang Asli, namely Senoi, which includes 55.09 percent, Proto Malay (41.97 percent), and Negrito (2.94 percent).

The language expert added that the extinction of one language happens when one ethnic group receives formal education that does not use their language, other than mixed marriage, which is happening with the Mendriq ethnic group.

According to the village chief, Ali Lateh, mixed marriages have happened very frequently since the early 1990s. When their significant others cannot speak the Mendriq language, they will use the Malay language to communicate with each other. Hence, this has caused the Mendriq language to slowly be forgotten. The young children are also being seen using the Malay language to communicate with each other.

He also said that a person with the ‘original’ features of someone from the Mendriq ethnic which are curly hair, dark skin, a wide round face, a flat nose, and a short chin; and even if there are, there are less than 10 people with those features.

The Tale behind Bujang Senang: the World’s 4th Largest Crocodile

Bujang Senang, recognized by many as the notorious crocodile responsible for numerous fatalities in Sarawak is viewed differently in the cultural narrative of the Iban people, where they believe that the deadly crocodile was once a man that was cursed to transform into a crocodile.

Ranking as the world’s fourth-largest crocodile, Bujang Senang has become the fear of the villagers around the Batang Lupar River since 1941. Its demise came at the hands of a combined effort of the police and villagers, requiring them four hours.

Legend holds that Bujang Senang was formerly an Iban warrior named Simalungun during the time when people practiced ‘mengayau’ (cutting off and collecting the enemies’ heads). His mystic skills rendered his body making him immune from attack and becoming an unbeatable force on the battlefield.

The mystic arts, however, carried a taboo that, if violated, the practitioner would become vulnerable. Simalungun’s enemies, desperate to overcome him, kidnapped his wife in an attempt to extract the closely guarded secret of his taboo. In a confrontation at the Batang Lupar River, Simalungun’s enemies released his wife but fatally impaled her with a javelin before he could reach her.

Consumed by grief and rage, Simalungun engaged in a fierce battle. To their surprise, his enemies discovered that weapons could harm him once he entered the river. It then came to a quick conclusion that Simalungun’s taboo forbade him from standing in a river, and despite his formidable skills, he was eventually defeated. His lifeless body, along with that of his wife, was thrown into the river.

Mysterious forces dwelling in the river cursed Simalungun’s remains, transforming him into a colossal crocodile, identifiable by a distinct white stripe on its back.

During its prime, Bujang Senang was rumored to rival the size of a bus, but by the time of its demise in 1992, it was measured at around 20 feet. Today, the skull of Bujang Senang is on display at Jong’s Crocodile Farm in Sarawak.

Exploring the Origins and Evolution of Zapin Dance

Zapin, a traditional Malay dance passed down through generations, encompasses various types like Zapin Melayu Johor and Zapin Tengliu, each distinguished by unique movements and styles. Despite its deep connection to Malay culture, the dance’s origin remains unknown to many.

Rooted in Malay culture, Zapin draws inspiration from Arabian-Persian arts seamlessly integrated into the Malay artistic tradition. The term “Zapin” is derived from the Arabic word “al-Zafin,” signifying ‘foot movement’ and highlighting the dance’s intricate focus on footwork.

Historically, the Zapin Dance originated in Siak Palace, where it entertained the royal students following their intensive studies on Islam. Arabian merchants introduced Zapin from Handramaut (Yemen) to Johor-Lingga in the 16th century, incorporating it into social activities with an Islamic context aimed at teaching Islam.

The dance was initially restricted to Malay men, with Malay women advised against participating to maintain social boundaries. But the dance has evolved to include both genders today. It has gained significant popularity in Johor, Pahang, and Selangor.

While Zapin was once a feature of religious ceremonies, it has transformed into a form of traditional entertainment. Traditional percussion instruments like gambus, accordion, rebab, marwas (bongo), traditional drum rebana, and dok accompany the dancers.

Over time, various choreographic evolutions have led to different forms of Zapin dance. One such evolved variant is Zapin Tengliu from Mersing, Johor, believed to have been created by fishermen dancing on their boats during leisure breaks at sea, syncing with the rhythm of the waves.

Distinctively, Zapin Melayu Johor stands out for blending Arab arts with local traditions and Islamic art philosophy. In the past, this Zapin was not confined to stages but graced mosque yards during celebrations, such as the birthday of Prophet Muhammad (Maulidurrasul).

Exploring the Origins of Traditional Malaysian Kuih

Just the mention of kuih will make one mouth water for it conjures nostalgia and unique local flavours. Ranging from sweet indulgences like kuih lapis to savory delights like kuih cara berlauk. But as Malaysians, do we truly know the origin of these traditional tasty local treats?

According to the author of “Kuih: From Apam to Wajik, a Pictorial Guide to Malay Dessert” Hidayah Amin, kuih is a Malay word used to describe bite-sized snacks such as cakes, biscuits, bread, and even porridge. The term is used generically to mean Malay desserts.

The evolution of kuih is deeply intertwined with historical events, particularly the migrations of Chinese, Indians, and other explorers who left their culinary imprints on Malaysia in bygone eras. The first kuih was created by the Peranakan or Nyonya people—pre-colonial Chinese settlers who arrived during the reign of old Malay Sultanates and had completely integrated their customs with local traditions, including language, faith, and cuisines.

The word ‘kuih’ is of Chinese origin from the Hokkien character 粿 (pronounced ‘kway’), but the tastes are distinctively Malay and Indonesian, Smooth, creamy coconut milk blended with rice flour, mung bean starch or tapioca flour.

Tracing the origins of each kuih type proves challenging, as these bite-sized delicacies carry a unique blend of Malay, Indian, and Chinese influences. Despite often being labeled as Nyonya kuih, the reality is that these treats represent a quintessential Malaysian delicacy. They showcase the nation’s rich diversity and cultural fusion, transcending labels and truly embodying the essence of Malaysia’s culinary heritage.

SJKT Sungai Salak Students Illuminate National Day with Tapestry of Patriotism

In a striking demonstration of collaboration and dedication, students from SJK Tamil Sungai Salak have made an achievement that has never been created before by setting a new record for the ‘Longest Malaysia Madani Flag’ to mark the 66th National Day.

Under the guidance of the school’s headmaster, Mr. Sivakumar, and with the help and support of the teachers, parents, and staff, students as young as five have accomplished crafting an impressive 99.4-meter-long banner with meticulous attention to detail, with the word ‘Malaysia Madani’ inscribed 17,356 times in four languages; Malay, English, Chinese, and Tamil to emphasize the nation’s multicultural identity.

Taking inspiration from the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Anwar Ibrahim, the banner starts with the silhouettes of the last 10 prime ministers from Independence Day until today, presented in Tamil, Malay, and Chinese. This thoughtful addition serves as a historical tribute to the leaders who have shaped the nation.

The banner also thoughtfully shows representations of each ethnic group in Malaysia, as well as each state and its distinctive features, including iconic historical landmarks. Noteworthy examples include Kuala Lumpur’s KLCC and Negeri Sembilan’s Minangkabau, drawn to capture the uniqueness of each state.

Adding a touch of national pride, the hibiscus or bunga raya, Malaysia’s cherished national flower, is prominently featured throughout the banner. The inclusion goal is to enliven the spirit of patriotism among the students of SJKT Sungai Salak.

The detailed paintings not only showcase the artistic level that primary school students are able to achieve but also serve as a captivating backdrop for the entire display. The phrase ‘Malaysia Madani’ prominently graces the top of these illustrations, creating a fusion of language, history, and art.

To make the record attempt more special, the District Education Officer of Port Dickson, Tuan Hj. Kamanizam bin Hj. Tindek became the witness to the accomplishment of the students and also participated together in the memorable record attempt national certificate and medal handover on 22 November 2023.

The collaborative effort of SJKT Sungai Salak’s students in creating the ‘Longest Malaysia Madani flag’ is a noteworthy accomplishment. It not only shows that there is no age limit in creating an achievement but also exemplifies the values of unity, diversity, and patriotism ingrained within the school’s community. The commitment of the students, coupled with the support of the people around them has resulted in a visual masterpiece that will remain in their hearts forever.

Escape Theme Park in Penang Owns Two World Records

Setting a remarkable precedent in Malaysia, the renowned Escape theme park in Penang has etched its name in history as the country’s first and sole themed destination boasting not one, but two Guinness World Records.

Escape theme park on the island of Penang includes a 3,645-foot waterslide that has smashed world records. and the world’s longest Zip Coaster (described as a combination of a zip liner and roller coaster).

When questioned about their groundbreaking achievements, Sim Choo Kheng, the CEO of Escape’s parent company Sim Leisure Group, humbly stated that their primary aim was to create an immersive ride experience that lasts several minutes, rather than specifically aiming for a world record.

The waterslide is twice as long as the previous record holder which was in New Jersey and only stretched 1,975 feet.

During the COVID-19 lockdown in June 2020, the concept of the zip coaster was conceived, leading to an investment of approximately RM700,000 for the installation of the track. With the zip coaster’s introduction, visitors now have the opportunity to relish the sensation of free-flying on a steel track connected to the treetops

Bibi’s Astounding Achievement in Dice Stacking and Record-Breaking

Many might not know that cats too are just capable of breaking world records. Siew Lian Chui from Puchong proved that with his pet cat, Bibi was able to achieve the record ‘Most Dice Staked on a Cat’s Paw’.

Bibi managed to balance 10 dice on his paw and the record is one of the daftest entries in the Guinness World Records book of 2019.

His owner, Siew Lian Chui from Puchong, Selangor, might have discovered the black and white feline’s talent by accident.