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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.

Ridzman Zidaine Shines Bright on Louis Vuitton’s Runway

The name Ridzman Zidaine isn’t new in the model industry, especially for the big fashion houses, having walked the runway for Hermes, Ermenegildo Zegna, and Homme Plissé Issey Miyake, among other renowned brands. And once again, he has set another achievement for the country, as he became the first Malaysian to open for Louis Vuitton at the young age of 23.

The dazzling event unfolded against the stunning backdrop of Hong Kong’s waterfront Avenue of Stars, where Pharrell William, an American rapper and entrepreneur, became Louis Vuitton’s men’s creative director and was the designer of the Men’s Pre-Fall 2024 collection.

According to Louis Vuitton, the theme of the collection featured a nautical sailor motif to ‘reinvent the seafarers’ wardrobe’. The well-fitted design of the double-breasted suit highlighted his physique, combining traditional sophistication with a modern twist. This created a beautiful representation of Louis Vuitton’s innovative and cutting-edge style. Notably, the runway itself extended over 400 meters, as revealed by Julien Da Costa’s Instagram post.

JBPM’s International Success in Changi’s Firefighter and Paramedic Challenge

The Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia (JBPM) achieved commendable success by securing both the champion and runner-up titles in two major events at the Firefighter and Paramedic Challenge 2023 held in Changi, Singapore.

Senior Superintendent Alimaddia Bukri, emphasized the significance of this victory, considering the intense competition from various countries and the challenges posed by sophisticated equipment and vehicles.

Alimaddia shared with Daily Metro, saying that they are giving their best with the experience they have, coupled with the guidance of their coach.

They have successfully brought the championship to Malaysia, proving that they are just not champions within our borders but also internationally capable.

Having participated in the competition multiple times, Alimaddia credited the team’s success to their continuous efforts and commitments. He also highlighted the thorough selection process for officers and members, focusing on their high physical fitness, technical expertise, and experience.

In the competition, JBPM secured victory in the ‘Rip It Off’ event (group) by triumphing over formidable opponents. Additionally, in the ‘Braveheart’ event, JBPM claimed the second spot.

Largest Rooftop Public Park in the Heart of the City

TRX City Park, situated atop the bustling lifestyle hub in Kuala Lumpur, stands as the largest rooftop public park in the city, covering an expansive 10 acres.

According to the Head of Retail and Project Director for the Exchange TRX at Lendlease Malaysia, the park aims to establish a gathering place for people of all backgrounds, breaking away from the conventional perception of financial districts as solely transactional spaces dominated by concrete, glass, and steel.

He emphasizes the uniqueness of TRX City Park, highlighting it as the first major urban park developed within Kuala Lumpur in the past two decades. The goal, according to Wilson, is to foster social interaction and movement, transforming the area into a vibrant and inclusive community space.

Within the park, visitors can explore a variety of features, including a playground, a unique ‘play cave’, and a garden, creating an ideal setting for contemplative evenings. For those in search of fresh air and a connection with nature, the “Forest Walk” trail provides a serene journey surrounded by lush greenery and a skyline.
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

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.

Scooping Success: The Malaysian Love Story Behind Inside Scoop

If you’re a frequent visitor to Klang Valley malls, chances are you’ve come across the delightful world of Inside Scoop, an ice cream haven that might surprise you with its distinctly Malaysian origins.

Owned by Edmund Tan and his wife, Lim Shiew Li, Inside Scoop was inspired by their love for ice cream and their desire to create happy memories for Malaysians. Their goal is to make great ice cream that is made fresh locally, creating imitable natural flavors and smooth, ultra-creamy textures, unlike mass-produced ones.

But the husband-and-wife duo has no background in culinary, aside from having years of ice cream tasting experience. They both had careers in finance, with Tan as an investment banker and Lim as an actuary. However, due to their burning passion for understanding the science behind ice cream, Shiew Li enrolled at Gelato University in Italy.

And that is how The Inside Scoop began in 2013, when they opened their first store in Bangsar with 16 flavors. After a decade in the business, Inside Scoop now offers over 70 flavors on rotation with more than 20 outlets across Malaysia. Not only that, they now sell ice cream cakes and buttermilk waffles that can be enjoyed with ice cream.

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

Khadijah Khatib: the Malaysian Artist Behind Percy Jackson Book’s Cover

The name Percy Jackson resonates with readers worldwide, captivating audiences with its gripping narrative of a teenage Greek demigod and his enthralling Olympian escapades. However, little is known about the talented illustrator behind the captivating UK editions of Rick Riordan’s renowned series, a Kuala Lumpur-born artist named Khadijah Khatib.

At the age of 26, Khadijah is a versatile freelance artist with a diploma in illustration, movie, and game art, lending her diverse skill set to a range of creative endeavors.

According to Khadijah, being a fan of the novel since she was 14 has helped her a lot when it came to designing the book covers. She adds that it was also helpful that her art director provided sketches for each of the books.

Before she collaborated on the Percy Jackson series, Khadijah had already made her mark by illustrating covers for Riordan’s “The Daughter of the Deep” and “The Sun and the Star.” Her artistic prowess extends beyond literature, as she has delved into conceptual art for both film and gaming projects, including her notable contribution to K-Pop sensation AleXa’s album cover

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.