An understanding of the lifestyle of the people of Malaysia will aid you in your decision about retiring in the country. The way people live in Malaysia may be very different from your own style of living, and it is important that you appreciate and respect the differences before adapting to the same.
Attitude of people
Malaysian people indulge in ceremonial politeness and come across as reserved. Behavioral norms are carefully followed within one’s family, friends and acquaintances. However, these rules do not always apply to strangers.
Blessings showered by elders is considered necessary for one’s success.
- On Hari Raya, at the end of Ramadan, Malay children kiss the hands of their parents and beg their forgiveness.
- On Chinese New Year, Malaysian Chinese children kneel before their parents.
Families in Malaysia
Traditionally, Malaysian families live close to their relatives.
- Villagers usually marry someone in their own village or someone from a neighboring community.
- Important events, both sad and happy, are shared with all the relatives.
Malaysian children know all their second cousins and have specific names for them – younger cousin, youngest uncle, eldest aunt, or elder cousin.
Relatives are not called by their names. Instead, they are called by their “status names.”
Babies are called by names that sound similar to “worm,” with the intention of protecting them from evil spirits.
Customs Surrounding birth of a baby
Pregnant women and newborn babies are protected from all manner of harm. In certain communities, the father-to-be is not allowed to kill any living being for fear of marking the baby.
Pregnant women and new mothers are protected from cold and wind.
- They are not allowed to eat “cold” food such as fruits and vegetables or iced drinks.
- They are made to wrap a cloth around their head.
Malaysian Chinese new moms are fed chicken soup with herbs and wine for 40 days.
- During this period, they are not allowed to shampoo their hair, either.
- The newborn baby is never taken outside, for fear of catching a cold.
Once 40 days are over, the baby’s head is ceremonially shaved and the mother is free of her confinement. Some babies are placed on the ground, or a handful of earth is pressed to their feet.
Festivals in Malaysia
Due to the multitude of cultures in Malaysia, different festivals are celebrated.
- Muslims celebrate Hari Raya Adilfitri (Hari Raya Puasa), Maulidur Rasul, Hari Raya Haji.
- Malaysian Indians celebrate Deepavali and Thaipusam.
- Malaysian Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year (every January or February) and Mooncake Festival.
- Christians celebrate Christmas in December. It is a public holiday in Malaysia.
Malaysians primarily enjoy football and badminton. Several sporting greats have emerged from Malaysia –Dato Lee Chong Wei (World No. 1 at badminton) and Dato Nicole David (World No. 1 at squash).
Status of women
In Malaysian society, men have more power than women.
- In Malaysian law, the father is considered the guardian of the child.
- Business leaders, religious practitioners, and top politicians are all male.
Now-a-days, women have begun to emerge in different fields.