VISIT PERAK YEAR: The state’s cultures, including those of Thai, Burmese and Japanese communities, will be promoted through paintings, handicraft and dance performances
With the diversity of races in Perak, and the presence of Thai and Japanese communities in the state, one can expect a rich culture as a result. With Visit Perak Year in full swing, visitors to the state would have the opportunity to observe some of the cultural practices and take part in festivals unique to each community.
Traditionally, the Chinese like celebrations with a lot of noise, thus the lion dance is a must for Chinese New Year.
The dance is also performed when moving into a new building, or opening a new business. It is believed that it brings good luck and prosperity, and drives away evil.
Indians, meanwhile, use a cow to usher in good luck during a house warming. The cow is considered a sacred animal, and is used to bless the house together with prayers led by priests. It is considered even more auspicious if the cow defecates in the house.
Come April 13, the Punjabi community will be celebrating a colourful harvest festival called vasakhi (Sikh New Year).
The Sikh community celebrates the festival with prayers, a procession of decorative floats carrying the Guru Grant Sahib (Sikh holy scriptures), and merry-making throughout the month.
The Malays used to wash their feet before entering into someone’s home before their warm greetings of salam at the host’s doorstep.These days, however, the washing of feet is no longer a common practice, although the salam is still offered.
The Orang Asli in Perak also have their own cultural practices. They celebrate fiesta jis pai to usher in the new year every January. Jis pai is a thanksgiving harvest festival when the Orang Asli expressed their gratitude for the food they received from the year’s harvest.
Members of the Yayasan Orang Asli Perak (YOAP) also showcases traditional dances, games and handicraft in Gopeng to mark the event.
One of the main celebrations among the Thai and Burmese communities is the songkran festival. The Menglembu Siamese temple will be celebrating the festival on April 13.
Anyone taking part in the festival must be prepared to get wet as it is a water festival with lots of water throwing.
The Japanese community, meanwhile, celebrates the traditional summer festival, bon odori, in July to honour ancestors who have passed on.
Also known as obon, the festival features Japanese taiko and martial arts performances, dances, crafts and food tasting.
Tourism Malaysia Perak (TPM) director Norshamshida Abd Rahman said the agency was promoting the state’s culture through paintings, handicraft and dance performances in a series of shows and exhibitions in Perak and Kuala Lumpur.
“The Kumpulan Seledang is performing the cultural dances of Perak for the Citrawarna Perak concert in Kuala Lumpur in May.
“We are also bringing the handmade tekat shoes to the International Shoe Festival at Putra World Trade Centre next month.
“Meanwhile, the 1Malaysia Contemporary Art exhibition in July will also showcase the culture of Perak,” she said.