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Annual Festivals & Celebrations in Malaysia

Hari Raya Puasa

Hari Raya Puasa (Hari Raya Aidilfitri), or commonly known as Eid Al Fitr in other Islamic countries, marks the end of Ramadan, a month of fasting observed by Muslims around the world. This is the most significant celebration for Muslims. Muslims start the day by congregating in mosques early in the morning to perform prayers followed by visits to the graves of the departed. Only the first two days are officially observed as a public holiday in Malaysia, but many Muslims take a few extra days off work. Malaysian Muslim and non-Muslim alike, join in with the spirit of the celebration.

Hari Raya Qurban

Celebrated by Muslims on the 10th day of the last month of the Muslim calendar, Hari Raya Qurban (Hari Raya Aidil Adha), or commonly known as Eid Al Adha in other Islamic countries, is a celebration of the completion of the period of pilgrimage to Mecca. Muslims in the country celebrate the festival with prayers and the sacrifice of cattle. The rest of the day is spent visiting friends and relatives, or entertaining guests at home.

Chinese New Year

Usually held in either January or February (depending on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar), this major celebration lasts for 15 days. This is the most important annual festival for the Chinese community and elaborate fireworks fill the sky, dragon dances are everywhere, everyone eats oranges and honeyed cakes and small red envelopes (ang pow) of gifts of money exchange hands. A customary reunion dinner for the family is held on the eve of the new year. Don't miss the exciting lion and dragon dance performances at shopping malls and homes.

Moon Cake Festival

Also known as the Lantern Festival, or Mid-Autumn Festival, this celebration began in 14th century China. Every year on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Chinese lunar calendar (usually in September), the Chinese celebrate this occasion. At night children carry lanterns, and families gather to eat moon cakes; in some places, lantern procession and competition are held.

Tadau Kaamatan

Tadau Kaamatan is a harvest festival celebrated in Sabah and Labuan. The festival, celebrated at the end of May, marks the end of the harvesting season and the beginning of a new season.

Gawai Dayak

Held on the first of June, Gawai Dayak is also a harvest festival celebrated by Sarawak's indigenous people, particularly the Ibans and Bidayuhs. Ceremonial offerings of various local traditional delicacies and tuak (home-made rice wine) are made to the gods of rice and prosperity. This unique festivity is a 'must-see' occasion for local and foreign tourists alike.


Deepavali, also called the Festivals of Lights. symbolises the victory of Lord Krishna over the demon king Narakasura. It marks the return of Rama after 14 years of exile. On this day, Hindus wake up at dawn, bathe themselves in herbal oil, put on new clothes, and say their prayers. Homes are lit with little oil lamps made from clay pots filled with coconut oil. This is believed to invite Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth who will not enter an unlit house. It takes place in the seventh month of the Hindu lunar calendar, which usually falls in October or November.

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