Awal Muharram and the Hijri Calendar: marking Islamic History and Traditions
Awal Muharram, also known as Maal Hijrah, marks the beginning of the new Hijri year, falling on the first day of Muharram on the Muslim calendar. The phrase "Maal Hijrah" in Arabic translates to "migration", symbolising Prophet Muhammad's emigration as a process of positive change and leaving behind negative aspects of life. Thus, this new year's day for Muslims emphasises reflection, remembrance and gratitude.
Pictorial essay of the energetic Angin OMbulan performance
21 July 2022 • 8:30 pm • Fort Cornwallis, Penang
Aida Redza and Kamal Sabran teamed up once again under the George Town Festival 2022 in Angin OMbulan, an on-site experimental performance. It was an expanded version of “Ssegar Angin” that was presented at the Venice Arts Biennale in April 2022 under the invitation of Port Perak, supported by George Town Festival 2022.
My understanding of All Saints' Day
Images of St. Joseph from the Roman Catholic Penang Diocesan Museum, Farquhar Street, Penang.
Can you name five saints, even if you are not Catholic? The first name that might come to mind is St. Anne, the grandmother of Jesus. The famous church in Bukit Mertajam is dedicated in her honour. And of course, standing alongside Mother Mary, the mother of Jesus, is St. Joseph.
The journey of faith – the Haj
Hari Raya Haji (or Hari Raya Korban) falls on the 10th day of Zulhijah, the last month of the Muslim calendar. It is a major Islamic festival and of particular significance for pilgrims who have returned from performing the Haj or umrah (pilgrimage) in Mecca. It may not be as grand as Hari Raya Aidil Fitri (or Hari Raya Puasa) in terms of joyous celebrations, but is important nonetheless for Muslims the world over.
Tides of candlelight adoration at St. Anne's Feast
One of the largest and most extraordinary religious mass gatherings in Southeast Asia is the St Anne Novena and Feast in the town of Bukit Mertajam in Penang.
The intriguing tale of deliverance behind the Hokkien New Year
The ninth day of the first lunar calendar is especially significant to the Hokkien people (a subgroup of Chinese). Some traditionalists would even venture as far as to say that it is much more important than the Chinese New Year day itself because on that day, the entire Hokkien clan was spared from being massacred. They believe it was the Jade Emperor, also known as the God of Heaven, who protected them. Thus, it is celebrated with more grandeur especially in Penang compared to the first day of the lunar calendar.
The Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Penang
How far would you go to uphold your beliefs? Would you be willing to undergo a strict vegetarian diet for nine straight days, walk on fire barefooted or pierce a long spear through your cheeks? Or are you an armchair devotee who prefers to remain in your comfort zone and observe events from afar? Does the younger generation know what this festival is all about and how many would stop to find out more?
Hari Raya Open House
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language describes an open house as "a social event in which hospitality is extended to all". This could be taken to mean that the diplomacy of inviting one and all to your house to celebrate an event is not an unfamiliar practice. But one could conjecture that nowhere else in the world would you find an open house event as big and as merry as the ones held in Malaysia.
Celebrating Vesak (or Wesak) Day in Penang
"Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared." – Buddha.
Vesak Day falls on the full moon of the lunar month of Vesākha (either in April, May or June). Also known as Buddha Purnima, it is considered as a holy celebration for the Buddhists as the day commemorates Gautama Buddha's birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and death (parinirvāna).
Pausing for Reflection on Holy Vesak Day
As 21st century Malaysia hurtles deeper into the recesses of globalisation, an urban rat-race and the 'kiasu' syndrome, does Buddhist culture still bear relevance in preserving traditional values?
The beggar readily sees a bare floor as a place for a good sleep. The rich man, on the other hand, will have nothing else but the softest bed in a 5-star hotel.
Both men, poor and rich, have one similar need - to sleep. But they have completely different levels of craving, different heights of desire.