Monday, 24 September 2012

Malay traditional culture

Assalamualaikum and happy monday to everyone. Today, i would like to exposed the Malay customs to all the readers. There are a lots of cultural in our tradition, but i only focused on few topic that i already choose.


Traditionally both Islamic practice as well as Malay adat frowns upon physical contact between members of the opposite sex, except in certain specific situations, depending upon the relationship between the parties involved as well as the age differences. Casual touching or physical contact is generally avoided, and even in situations  where such avoidance may be a problem, such as in crowded buses or trains and so on.
The Malays have of course derived this practice of avoiding contact between the sexes in public  from  Islam. Universally  in Muslim countries, physical contact between the sexes in public is frowned upon. This applies even in the case of the apparently innocuous  act of shaking hands.  There are of course religious reasons for the prohibition of such contact. Thus the practice of embracing, hugging and even  of shaking hands between members of the opposite sex  is, in theory, totally absent. Western education and modernisation, however, have brought about some changes in attitude amongst the urban Malays in particular towards such physical contact.

In general , when greeting someone of the opposite sex, Malays would once again use the universal Islamic greeting “Assalamu Alaikum”,  and receive the response “Wa Alaikum Salaam” as indicated above. Members of the opposite sex meeting each other may smile at each other, they may even bow a little, but they may not touch.  This rule of not touching extends to into other areas as well, including hugging or embracing, putting one hands on another person’s  shoulders or other parts of the body in a familiar fashion  and so on.  In short any sort of physical contact between sexes is prohibited. To some extent even married couples often observe this practice in public.

The Use of the Right Hand for Eating

Traditionally, when eating something the right hand is to be used. It is taboo to use the left hand for eating purposes, even when  forks and spoons are used.   All good acts, such as holding a copy of the Holy Quran, touching someone, giving or receiving something, are to be done using the right hand. In fact if someone gives or receives something using the left hand this is considered rude.  Similarly when someone wishes to point at another person or at something the right hand is to be used. The actual pointing, however, in the Malay style is done not with  the index finger, but with the thumb,  the other fingers being folded backwards. Most acts considered good, therefore, are done using the right hand. The left hand is used for less clean functions such as cleaning oneself after going to the toilet.
While the men then, settle themselves on the landing, female visitors are taken further into the house, into the sitting area,  where the hostess or female members of the family attend to her. Even if a married couple together go to a kampung house, the husband and wife may be separated  in this manner, unless of course they are well-known to the occupants of the house or are related to them.

Visiting Someone
Traditionally Malay houses in the villages (kampung), mainly constructed of wood and thatched palm-leaves (attap)  were built on stilts. This was to ensure safety from floods  as well as the insencts, snakes and animals, some possibly wild ones in the vicinity of the kampung. Certain customary practices designed for such a  situation, however, have been carried on even amongst the Malays now living in apartments or bungalows in Malaysia’s  main towns and cities  as result of changing economic and other circumstances. This is best illustrated in the manner in which visitors are expect to behave and in the manner in which they are received at a kampung house.
When someone visits a Malay house it has traditionally been regarded as good manners and in keeping with the adat, to stop on the open ground at the bottom of the steps leading to  the landing of a kampung house. From this point the visitor greets the occupants of the house or announces his or her  presence. Usually the Islamic manner of greeting “Assalamu Alaikum” (Peace be upon you) is uttered loudly enough for the occupants of the house to hear. The formula may be repeated  in the absence of immediate response.   Someone from the house will generally reply to this formula of greeting with the words “Wa Alaikum Salaam”, (Upon you too be Peace) possibly  before the door is even opened, for it may in fact take a while for the responding person to in fact make his or her appearance at the door.

In modern houses the same practices  are observed, but with certain modifications. A person, for instance,  will call the householder from the gate of a house, or ring the door bell, but in either case the greeting, Assalamu Alaikum” is never omitted.  Children are trained from a very early age to call this greeting each time they enter a house, even their own. Theoretically, this should also be done by adults  according both to Islam and the cultural practice of the Malays.

In the event that the visitor is not a Muslim,  he or she will call out the word ”Encik..” or Tuan meaning mister, Datuk, or  Tuan Haji or by some other suitable title. If someone already knows the person in the house, the full name such as . Encik Khalid, or Puan Rogayah may be used. The title used to call such persons from a household, will of course depend upon the age and status of the visitor too. For instance if the visitor is a young person, he may call the occupations by using the terms “uncle” or “aunt” in Malay. There are in fact many different ways and many different terms that come into use in this situation depending upon the identity of the person being called and that of the visitor, in addition to the differences in status as well as age.

Footwear to be left outside
The visitor, acknowledged and perhaps recognised, is then invited to go up the stairs to the landing of the house. Footwear must be removed and left outside before going up the landing or, in the case of  modern houses, before  entering a house.  Muslims  are generally very particular about cleanliness, and therefore  it considered best to leave shoes outside the house upon entry for they are likely  to bring with them all manner of filth. Most Muslims do not wear footwear in the house. Often common areas of the house, such as the living room, are used for  group prayers.  Besides this many Muslims actually prefer to sit on the floor instead of sitting on chairs in informal situation.  Meals are often eaten sitting on the floor. Much of this culture, therefore comes to the Malays from the Islamic tradition. For all these reasons the house has to be completely clean.

Shaking Hands
The host may shake hands with the guest using both his hands, rather than in the Western manner with the right hand. The grip of hands is gentler and the shaking less vigorous than in the Western style.  Additionally, when a younger person shakes hands with an elder, be it a parent, a teacher or someone else, the younger person also bows  down during the handshake, and kisses the upper side of the right hand of the older person. This is to show respect to the elder person.
During occasions such as Hari Raya the younger persons in a family may also go down on to the knees and then carry out this handshake as just described. This, however, happens only when the elders are seated.

Following the shaking of hands each  person raises both his or her hands  to the chest and  places them momentarily at the centre or on the left side  where the heart is. This action symbolises sincerity.

Shaking hands between members of the opposite sexes is, however, prohibited, as Islam forbids physical contact between the sexes (See the section entitled Touching).  There are of course exceptions to this rule. One may, for instance, shake hands with family-members of the opposite sex or with very young children, as well as with the elderly.

If the visitor to a kampung house is a man he is generally given a seat on the landing; the  host will then attend to him. Traditionally betel left trays (tepak sirih), containing the left and all the requisite ingredients were placed before visitors, but this art of serving betel-leaves is fast dying out.  During the next few minutes a drink is brought for the visitor, and there may even be some snacks.

i hope you guys enjoy the the post and gained some knowledge from the entry. thank you :)

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