Thursday, March 05, 2015

Loving Malaysia's Diversity (and Holidays)

We are going on our ninth year living in Kuala Lumpur. Thankfully, everything has been very smooth and we are loving every moment. We came to KL as newlyweds. Today, I have two wonderful kids, a supportive husband, great Malaysian friends and a treasure trove of memories from this beautiful city.

One of the things I appreciate most is the diverse culture that is found in one country. Unlike the Philippines where I grew up from, almost everyone had the same of the same things. To elaborate, I grew up in an environment where almost everyone I knew had the same religion, the same do's and don'ts of food, the same belief, the same ancestors, the same holidays (Christmas is *THE ULTIMATE* holiday) and so on... With Malaysia, I learned about the different beliefs and religions. About the different CAN and CANNOT's for food, being sensitive to the other person's religion and food preferences, and more.

I write this today as all my friends celebrate Chap Goh Meh, the last day of the Chinese New Year. Despite me being Chinese, we never really celebrated big time back in Manila. What mattered mostly was Christmas and then followed by New Year celebrations. Today as all my Chinese Malaysian friends go out for family dinners and restaurant celebrations -- in sharp contrast, I am in my pajamas in bed typing out my blog. Had a simple mushroom soup dinner with bread. It makes me reflect about the beauty of Malaysia's diversity. The population is divided into the 3 different races and its respective religions plus some bonus holidays. My own simple experience drives me to conclude that the major holidays (that is equivalent to my precious Christmas celebrations) would be Chinese New Year for the Chinese, Hari Raya Ramadan for Muslims, Deepavali for Indians, and Christmas for the Christians and Catholics. There are several other religious holidays (another wonderful thing about Malaysia!) -- however I would tend to say these jump out as major "christmas-like" frenzy with consumer spending and family gatherings. And of course, tons of food & over-eating.

The beauty of diversity also means they take turns in their celebrations. Which means the traffic of people rushing to restaurants and shopping malls is somehow divided to the respective holidays, unlike back home in Manila. Christmas is majorly C-R-A-Z-Y in terms of traffic -- be it on the streets, at the mall, at restaurants or anywhere else.

Diversity also means more holidays. Which of course if great for everyone.

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