Tourism Malaysia


When the takbir is heard echoing from far, we can immediately see smiles on the faces of everybody. That marks the end of one month of fasting during Ramadan, and Syawal is knocking on the door, ready to be celebrated. Eid Day, or commonly known as Hari Raya comes once per year and is a day where families and friends get together and celebrate with various types of traditional delicacies after a full month of fasting in Ramadhan.

For first-timers to Malaysia, you might be wondering what to do on Eid Day. Well, read on to know how Malaysians celebrate the day and the iconic things not to miss during Hari Raya.

It’s a common thing for fellow Malaysians to invite friends, neighbours, even strangers to their houses to celebrate together, especially on the first day – this is in the spirit of the Malaysian Open House. It’s a great way to try out the typical Hari Raya dishes and join in the fun. Keep an eye out for Open House invitations by some popular local personalities, Government agencies, and even the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Rendang, Ketupat and satay are the signature dishes of Hari Raya. It would not be Hari Raya without these dishes. Rendang is a spicy meat dish made from meat, coconut milk, chili, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, turmeric and onion (shallot). Each state will have a slightly different version of the recipe (and claim theirs to be the best!). For example, chicken Rendang from Negeri Sembilan would look and taste differently from chicken Rendang made in Kedah.

Ketupat is a type of dumpling made out of rice packed inside a diamond-shaped pouch of woven palm leaves eaten with a thick and spicy roasted peanut gravy. You can also eat ketupat with rendang.

Another type of ketupat is made with starchy glutinous rice wrapped in daun palas into a triangle shape. These are usually found in the northern region of Malaysia.

Satay is a seasoned, skewered and grilled meat, served with Kuah Kacang. It is eaten on sticks and served hot right after being grilled, garnished with ketupat, cucumbers and onions.

Every household celebrating Hari Raya will definitely have some Kuih Raya to serve the guests. There are a variety of Kuih Raya and snacks, but all are bite-sized sweet delights. Our favourites are the pineapple tarts and London almonds!

Cakes are also served on this day to sweeten the celebration. There are a few signature Hari Raya cakes that are so special, they only make an appearance on the day of celebration.

Kek Lapis or Layered Cake is also typically served during Hari Raya. It is especially popular in Sarawak where a whole table is often dedicated to displaying all the different and colourful varieties.

Also famous in Sarawak is the black-as-soot steamed Hati Parek cake made of black raisins, caramelised brown sugar and lots of eggs.

It’s habitual for Malaysians to celebrate Hari Raya with one of the most compulsory things: fireworks. Don’t be surprised to hear fireworks going off or see them in the sky, it’s a sign that Hari Raya will be tomorrow. As for kids, you will see them lighting up sparklers, ground spinners, rocket-style Thunderclaps and others to welcome the celebration.

What is celebrating Hari Raya without wearing new clothes? For Malays, we have our own traditional clothing worn during Hari Raya, which is Baju Melayu (for men) and Baju Kurung (for women). You can find these two traditional clothings in many different colours and designs. Visit shopping malls during the month before Hari Raya and you will see all the trendy designs. If you wait right till the last day of Ramadan to shop for your clothes, you may even get them at deep discounts.

Hari Raya is a great time to head down to the nearest shopping centre and witness the most amazing mall decorations. Shining lights, decorative walls and attractive scenery will get you in the festive mood! In fact, the malls in Malaysia will often try to out-do each other with their mall decorations and festive activities so shopping in Malaysia is definitely not dull!

All Malaysia Info

Baju kurung still a popular choice for many

Baju Kurung

The Baju Kurung is very comfortable and can be stylish if you know how to carry it off.

If you’re looking at a choice of traditional Malay dresses, your shortlist would almost certainly have the humble baju kurung. It’s versatile, suitable for the festive seasons, at formal functions or even as office attire.

The dress is meant to be worn loosely and is rather conservative looking. Still, it has its own special characteristics, which represents grace and tradition for the Malays.

According to fashion expert Salikin Sidek, despite being branded ‘old fashion’ and conservative, the baju kurung is still popular.

“Baju kurung will always remain popular even though it’s perceived as ‘outdated’ by some’,” said the renowned fashion designer who is known for being the champion of traditional Malay dresses such as the baju kurung and baju kebaya.

“It’s very comfortable and can be stylish if you know how to carry it off with the right accessories like the selendang and brooches.”

According to Salikin, a typical baju kurung is worn with a sarong. This sarong can be tied in a style known as the “ikatan ombak mengalun” where the knot is tied at one side of the sarong, either on the right or left depending on the wearer’s convenience.

“This style is preferred because it’s more practical and easy for walking when you take big strides.

“Those days, the village women will have a “kain kelubung” to cover their heads as they leave their houses. This is a sort of head-cover to shade from the blazing sun or it’s simply used as a shawl,” explained Salikin.

Sometimes, the sarong is used in the form of “kain berdagang luar” where the sarong, tied at waist level, is worn over the baju kurung. This sarong is usually made of kain telepok, songket, gerus or kain batik.

Elegant Baju Kebaya

Another popular traditional Malay costume is the kebaya, which, unlike the baju kurung, is a figure-hugging dress.

The materials used are often made of lace, and is heavily embroidered. It is normally worn with a batik sarong, a tight-fitting long skirt that has a slit in front; a plain long skirt; or a wrap around.

However, the kebaya has been revolutionised, and is more versatile these days. The younger generation is wearing kebaya tops with flared skirts, jeans, palazzo pants or pareo, while the kebaya itself is worn like a loose top with a camisole inside.

“Unlike baju kurung, kebaya looks more alluring and elegant. The outfit looks more gracious if you combine it with a long selendang. However, not many Malaysian women will opt for kebaya especially those who are conscious about their figure.

Baju Kebaya

The kebaya, unlike the baju kurung, is a figure-hugging dress.

“You need a little bit more confidence to carry off baju kebaya compared to baju kurung,” said Salikin who has two boutiques in Ampang Park and SACC Mall in Shah Alam.

Whichever type of traditional attire you choose to wear, Salikin’s advice is to wear it elegantly with the right accessories.

“The accessories will enhance the costume and will make you more stylish. But if you dress it down then the whole aura is gone,” said Salikin who has been designing all kinds of traditional costumes for weddings and regular customers.

Types of Traditional Malay Attire

Baju Kurung Teluk Belanga

Baju kurung is the traditional apparel for Malay women in Malaysia. This loose-fitting knee-length baggy baju kurung is worn with a sarung. Normally sarung is worn for casual wear at home.

The Teluk Belanga has a typical neckline with no collar, stitched in the ‘tulang belut or the ‘mata lalat’ style. As the name suggests, this baju kurung hails from Teluk Belanga, the island of Singapore, which was previously the capital state of Johor.

Baju Kurung Songket

Baju kurung made of songket.

Baju Kurung Cekak Musang

This style of baju kurung has the stylish Mandarin-inspired collar or Cekak Musang. The prominent collar comes with five buttons including two buttons for the collar.

This form of Baju Kurung used to be made of velvet with matching songket. It is often adorned with jewelleries and is usually custom-made especially for traditional Malay weddings.

Modern Baju Kurung

This is the latest and modern approach to baju kurung. Even the modern baju kurung has evolved with time. It is shorter, shapelier and worn with a long skirt and comes in various designs.

Unlike the typical baju kurung, kurung modern top has no pesak. Instead, it’s replaced by zip and darts while the bottom can be a long skirt, A-line skirt, pareo or mermaid skirt.

This bottom skirt also comes in different styles like wrapped, pleated, with or without slit. While the slit can take about 2 feet long either in front, at the side, the back or with just two flaps at the back.

The modern baju kurung has evolved so much that it comes in many forms. You can see modern baju kurung in all kinds of fabrics from satin, songket, chequered, polka dots, geometric patterns, batik, pastel shades and lively colors.

Kebarung or Kebaya Kurung

This is the alternative baju kurung for those who want to wear something different. It is a combination of the baju kebaya and the baju kurung. It is loose and almost reaches the ankles and it is not one of the traditional clothes of the Malay.

The ‘Kebaya Kurung’ has a kebaya cut with long sleeves and fastened at the front using chained brooches. It gives out a comfortable outlook on the whole. Women who are cautious of their figure will opt for this style as it offers maximum comfort and is equally appealing.

Kebaya Labuh or Kebaya Panjang

This style of kebaya looks exactly like the short kebaya but it is longer usually below the knees and worn over a sarung. History has it that the Portuguese women wore this long fitted kebaya in 16th century perhaps being influenced by the women in Sumatra, in North Western Indonesia.

Some say the Chinese heavily influences this attire since the open-fronted long-sleeved tunic reminds one of the dresses worn by women of the Ming Dynasty. Then there is another theory, which said that the Arabs influenced this wonderful kebaya because of the emerging influence of Islam.

The Kebaya Nyonya

The Nyonyas or the Peranakan community often wears this alluring Nyonya Kebaya.

This attire has gradually transformed it into a shapely, embroidered blouse, fastened with a set of chained brooches and worn with a matching hand-drawn batik sarong and beaded slippers.

This distinct Kebaya Nyonya with its intricate and beautiful embroidery is a result of the Nyonyas of inter-marriage Chinese-Malay descendants in the straits of Melaka.

Baju Kurung Kedah

Baju Melayu, Baju Kurung

The Baju Kurung and Baju Melayu.

This is a short blouse with a baju kurung neckline and a three-quarter sleeves. It is comfortable and practical as you can move around easily because of the practical and hassle-free design.

It is worn with long skirt or batik sarung or a kain pelikat tied to the front with the grand motif infront. Those days, most married Malay women would wear this attire.

Baju Melayu

While the Malay women opt for Baju Kurung, the Malay men wear Baju Melayu. This shirt-like traditional outfit is divided into three parts. The first is the long sleeved shirt-like fastened together by studs called butang or kancing.

The studs usually made of different types of butang from the normal ones to gold, silver, precious or semi-precious stones. The studs may also be connected with a light metal chain, almost string-like, which will be concealed behind the shirt.

The collar looks like a stiff Mandarin collar known as the Cekak Musang. The second part is the trousers. These two parts are often made out of the same type of fabric.

The third is the kain samping, a skirt-type adornment, which is folded around the waist. This kain samping is made of kain tenun, kain songket or simply kain pelikat. To completeson the whole attire, baju Melayu is often worn with a headgear called songkok. – By ZIEMAN


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