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Festivals in Malaysia
Malaysia celebrates a vast range of festivals, the most vibrant and must see are the Islamic holidays and festivals, among the Muslim celebrations the fasting month of Ramadan is a definite visit and an experience.
During its 30 days of Ramadan, Muslims fast between sunrise and sunset. People get up early before sunrise for a special meal called Sahur or Suhur, and take off early to get back home in time to break fast called buka puasa at sunset.
At the end Ramadan is the festival of Eid ul-Fitri, known locally as Hari Raya Puasa or Aidilfitri, nearly the whole country takes a week off to go to their home towns or village known as 'balik kampung' (Childhood Village) people return to their home towns to meet family and friends, this is the one time of year when Kuala Lumpur has no traffic jams, but the rest of the country does, and traveling around Malaysia is best avoided if at all possible.
Although Non-Muslims, as well as Muslims travelers (musafir), are exempt from fasting but it is polite to refrain from eating or drinking in public during Ramadan. Many restaurants close during the day and those that stay open maintain a low profile. Business travelers will notice that things move rather more slowly than usual and, especially towards the end of the month, many people will take leave. The upside for the traveler is the bustling Ramadhan bazaars in every city and town, bustling with activity and bursting at the seams with great food. Hotels and restaurants also pull out all stops to put on massive spreads of food for fast-breaking feasts.
Another important festival is the Muslim festival of Eid ul-Adha, known locally as Hari Raya Haji or Aidiladha. It is during this festival that Muslims perform the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca. In local mosques, lambs donated by the faithful are sacrificed, and thier meat is distributed to all this is done in the memory of Ibraha & his son Ishmail. Eid Al Adha is also an other family reunion.
These family reunions are also celebrated during other main festivals in the country. With people decked out in their traditional finery, these festivals are an integral feature of Malaysia society.
Other major holidays in Malaysia include Chinese New Year (around February), the Buddhist holiday of Wesak (around June), Deepavali or Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights (around November) and Christmas.
Some uniquely Malaysian festivals of note include the Harvest Festival at the end of May each year and the 'Pesta Gawai' in early June, both thanksgiving celebrations held in East Malaysia.
Thaipusam is a Hindu festival that falls in January or February and is one of the must-see events. The largest procession in the country takes place at Batu Caves, north of Kuala Lumpur. Devotees carry decorated altars or kavadi up a flight of 272 steps towards the temple, all this while also having spears and hooks pierced through various parts of their bodies. This masochistic practice does not harm the devotees in any way! The ability is attributed to divine intervention and religious fervor.