What Are Typical Malaysian Traditions & Culture?

Written by carolyn welty
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What Are Typical Malaysian Traditions & Culture?
Explore Malaysian traditions and culture. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Malaysia is a tropical country in southeastern Asia that borders Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. The official language is Bahasa Malaysia, which is based on the original ethnic group called the Mayas. In addition to the Mayas, Malaysia's population is also made up of Chinese, Indians and other ethnicities. All these groups maintain their own customs and religions, but they have common bonds that demonstrate tradition and a rich Malaysian culture.

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The traditional food of Malaysia is the staple of rice. At every meal, it is served with other dishes such as fish, vegetables and poultry. Beef is not served as is traditional in most of Asia. In all of the country, however, breakfast is the most important meal of each day. One morning favourite is called nasi kandar, which is a fish curry served with poultry or fish in a chilli sauce that is served with boiled eggs. Another breakfast dish is nasi dagang, which is a rice cooked in coconut milk, and it is combined with fish curry, coconut sambal and cucumber pickle. Another food tradition is food stalls or booths that are featured in all of Malaysia. Residents and guests are offered local produce and prepared ethnic foods that vary according to local recipes and tastes.


The Malaysian culture has a high regard for the social structure of the family. This is based on all of the various cultural influences, and they all believe that the family is a support system that provides emotional, financial and unified support that has a great deal of respect for its elders. It is also the basis for the cultural trait known as face. This means that Malays, Chinese and Indians all work hard to make sure that shame and embarrassment are not public issues. Rather, the goal is to make sure that a person's name, character and esteem are respected in society. As a result, it is traditional for entire country to seek harmony in personal and public situations. Residents respect authority, and they are calm and courteous.


One particularly interesting cultural event is the traditional wedding ceremony in Malaysia. It is known as the Malay wedding ceremony, and it infuses elements of previous cultures. For example, in the Indian or Hindu tradition of southern India, the husband and wife adorn themselves in extravagant, colourful and intricate brocades, and for part of the time, they sit in silence and appreciate the presence of each other. In addition, part of the ceremony is for them to paint their hands with a henna colour and to feed each other yellow rice while their guests enjoy a wedding dinner.


Introductions depend on ethnicities, but most realise that it is normal to recognise the Western handshake. Most women shake hands with other women, but they do not shake hands with men. Instead, men greet women with a bow and place a hand on their heart. In addition, the Malaysian's handshake is light and prolonged, and some lower their eyes in respect. In addition, greetings begin with the highest-ranking person and end with the lowest.

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