Tuesday, May 26, 2009

About Dato' Siti Nurhaliza

(for my foreign friends who have not heard of her...)
Dato' Siti Nurhaliza binti Tarudin DIMP, JSM, SAP, PMP, AAP (born January 11, 1979) is a multiple-award winning Malaysian pop singer-songwriter. To date, she has garnered more than 200 local awards as well as international awards

Early childhood (1979 – 1995)
Siti Nurhaliza was born in Kampung Awah (Temerloh), Pahang on January 11, 1979. Siti is the fifth child in the family of eight siblings. She comes from a musically inclined family. Her grandfather was a famous violinist, and her mother was a famous local traditional singer.

From the age of 5, she followed her uncle to invitational shows like wedding ceremonies and dinner parties to give her exposure performing live, where she was well received by the local community. During her childhood she was involved in various school activities, including sports and class speeches.

Siti Nurhaliza attended pre-school at the Sekolah Tabika Perkep, Balai Polis Kampung Awah, Temerloh. Here she showed her early singing talent at the age of six when she sang "Sirih Pinang", a Malay traditional song, at her kindergarten's end of year event. She attended primary school at Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Clifford and followed up her secondary education at Sekolah Menengah Clifford, Kuala Lipis, Pahang.

She was an athlete in school and this showed when at the opening ceremony of the Fiesta Media Idola 2006 in Kuantan she was a torch bearer to light the games of the Fiesta, together with actress Fasha Sanda. Siti had also won a singing contest when she was twelve years old. She sang the patriotic song "Bahtera Merdeka" at a Kuala Lipis Carnival in conjunction with the "Nyanyian Bulan Kemerdekaan" (Independence Month Singing Contest).

Early commercial success (1995 – 1996)
Siti Nurhaliza's family performed at many local ceremonies in their hometown, such as weddings. At the age of twelve, Siti began to learn traditional songs from her mother and went on performing that genre of music during special occasions and events.

Later, as she continued to work on her singing, she participated in numerous local singing competitions. At 16, she competed in the 1995 RTM Juara Bintang competition. While there, she met Adnan Abu Hassan, a famous Malaysian music composer. He tutored her and helped her with her vocal performance, and ultimately she won the contest. She was granted a contract with Suria Records and in 1996 released her first self-titled album, Siti Nurhaliza. Completing her first album was a challenge because she had to balance working on the album with her preparations for the SPM examination. Despite this, her first album was a great success, and paved the way for successful subsequent albums.

Career development (1996 – 2006)
After the release of her first album, Siti became a well-known figure in Malay pop culture. She continued to have numerous hits, her songs spanning a broad range of genres, such as pop, R&B, and traditional Malay. Her voice and lyrics proved to be popular among teenagers as well as adults throughout Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia.

Siti was the first non-Chinese artiste to be invited to perform at the 15th Golden Melody Awards, Taiwan in 2004. Apart from performing solo, she also sang a duet with Lee-Hom Wang in a song called 月亮代表我的心 (The Moon Represents My Heart).

Throughout her career, Siti Nurhaliza's songs have been covered by other artistes, including the famous song Cindai which was re-recorded in Chinese version by Chien Bai Hui. Also, her first hit song, Aku Cinta Padamu was covered by North, an Australian boy band. Siti held a successful solo concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London in April 1, 2005, although the majority of the audience were Malaysians living in the United Kingdom and Malaysians who had travelled just to see the concert. British press called her 'Asia's Celine Dion' due to her powerful vocal and outstanding performances.To date, she has the most number one singles than any other artiste in Malaysia.

Siti was bestowed the 'Darjah Indera Mahkota Pahang' award by the Sultan of Pahang which carries the title 'Datuk' in October 24, 2006.

Siti is known to be a formidable and successful and well-known businesswoman in Malaysia. She currently tops the list of the 'Richest Artistes' in Malaysia. She is also worth more than RM65 million and was named one of the millionaires in entertainment in South East Asia.

Transkripsi (2006 – 2007)
Siti's eleventh studio album, Transkripsi, was released in 2006 and contained contributions from producers such as Aubrey Suwito, Jenny Chin, Mac Chew, Yasin, Cat Farish, Firdaus Mahmud and Damian VE. Transkripsi became the year's best album after winning the Best Album award in the Anugerah Industri Muzik, equivalent to the Grammy Award. It was the first album released under her own production company.

She made her first appearance at the Grammy Awards for the red carpet session on February 11, 2007. She was the first Malaysian to walk the red carpet.

On April 20 and April 21, 2007, Siti performed at the successful Konsert Istana Cinta Nostalgia, which was a tribute concert for the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee & Puan Sri Saloma at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur. The concert featured popular songs composed by Tan Sri P. Ramlee himself, performed by Siti and other invited artistes. Before this, Siti was also invited to perform a tribute concert for the late Sudirman Hj Arshad, also at Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur in 2002.

On April 30, 2007, she garnered 4 nominations in the Anugerah Industri Muzik including Best Pop Album (Transkripsi), Best Vocal Female Performance In An Album (Transkripsi), Best Music Video ("Bisakah") and Best Cover for an Album (Transkripsi). Out of these, she won two: Best Pop Album and Best Album for Transkripsi.

She also bagged 2 fan-based-vote nominations for Most Popular Female Artist and Most Popular Song ("Biarlah Rahsia") and 3 nominations for Best Female Artist, Best Song and Best Album at 2006 Anugerah Planet Muzik, a regional award ceremony for artistes in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. She won Most Popular Female Artist, Best Female Artist and Best Song ("Biarlah Rahsia").

Hadiah Daripada Hati & other work (2007 – 2008)
2007 showed Siti's participation on soundtracks for the films Kayangan and 1957: Hati Malaya. For Kayangan, Siti recorded a song Menanti Pasti. It's the first single to be released to the Indonesian market. For 1957: Hati Malaya, Siti recorded a song called "Hati", which was released in September 2007.

Siti performed as Azizah, P. Ramlee's mysterious lover, in the musical 'Remy ... Kisah P. Ramlee (Remy ... The Story of P. Ramlee), which is a tribute to the late P. Ramlee, staged at Istana Budaya from October 17, 2007, to November 3, 2007.

Siti's twelfth studio album Hadiah Daripada Hati was released on December 10, 2007. Siti released the Latin-influenced pop song Ku Mahu as the first single of this album and it was featured as the opening theme song for a drama called Spa-Q. Thanks to the popularity of Spa-Q, the single was well received and topped most of the Malay charts for weeks. Melawan Kesepian was her second single and was the first track of this album to have a video clip. The song was a remake of a hit that was once popularized by an Indonesian band called Jikustik. Her acting debut in the musical 'Remy... The Story of P. Ramlee' also saw the debut of her third single Mulanya Cinta, which was created by Dick Lee, a Singaporean composer. Siti said that it was her first collaboration with the renowned musician although she had known him for years.

The new album was previously claimed to be a traditional album but due to lack of materials, she moved on with producing another pop album. The traditional album is now slated for a 2008 release, as stated by Siti herself.

Siti has also recently became the most frequently searched person on Google by Malaysian Google users, according to Google's 2007 Malaysia Year-End Zeitgeist, beating celebrities like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

On March 21, 2008, Siti held a successful solo acoustic concert at the prestigious Esplanade Theatre in Singapore. The concert was called Diari Hati or 'A Diary of Her Heart'. She performed numbers of hits from her latest album, Hadiah Daripada Hati and previous albums. The concert has received good reviews from the local press saying that 'she rules hearts in Singapore as well as in Malaysia' and 'her reign as the queen of Malay pop songs is still going strong'

Hadiah Daripada Hati came under criticism from the press when it was released. Critics said it was a moderate performance from Siti Nurhaliza and was not on the same par as her previous album Transkripsi, which was touted as the best album she had ever made. But these criticisms were rebutted when Hadiah Daripada Hati received five nominations in the 15th edition of AIM including Best Pop Album and Song of The Year, making Siti the second nominee with the most nominations after newcomer Faizal Tahir.Out of five categories including three multiple nominations, the album earned her three awards for Best Pop Album, Best Musical Arrangement in a Song (Malay) for the song Cintamu as well as her ninth Best Vocal Performance in an Album (Female) in which she had lost to Jaclyn Victor the previous year.

Lentera Timur (2008 – present)
On 26 December 2008, is the 13th released album of Siti Nurhaliza Lentera Timur, her recent traditional comtemporary album, Irama Malaysia (Fourth Ethnik Creative Album) since her third one Sanggar Mustika in 2002. The album will have modern and contemporary songs unlike her usual traditional genre. Siti also worked with renowned composers like M. Nasir and Indonesia's Katon Bagaskara. It was said the initial development of her album was in 2006, due to lack of materials she had to postpone for the next 2 years (which is in 2008). Subsequently, in order to not disappointing any party including her fans, Siti produced her previous album, Hadiah Daripada Hati in 2007.

Siti has also recorded 2 songs for the soundtrack to Perempuan Berkalong Sorban film. The songs recorded are Opick's Ketika Cinta and Batasku Asaku which was written by Siti herself.

Siti also sang a new song called as 'Suara Sepi', which was written by Johari Teh and Habsah Habsan during her performance at Palestinian charity concert.

Despite of the poor sale due to the lack of promotions, the quality of the album has never been denied. As in Anugerah Industri Muzik 16, Siti Nurhaliza proved that she is still at the top notch. Lentera Timur grabbed top awards, Best Pop Ethnic and later on honoured Album Of The Year in AIM 16. She also took home Best Female Vocal trophy for the song ' Di Taman Teman '. She was not present at the award ceremony as she went to Mecca to perform Umrah with her family.

For more of Dato' Siti Nurhalia, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siti_Nurhaliza where I source the above info from.

More Dos and Don'ts for you own benefit(Malaysian call it 'Petua')

These are some of Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza’s tips (petua) taken off and translated from the Koleksi Pantang & Petua Artis Hiburan Media magazine.

Tips for a smoother skin
Mix some honey with the white of an egg and put it on your face, and let dry for 30 minutes. Then you can rinse off.

For slimming
Get a few papaya leaves and boil it for the essence. Throw away the leaves and drink the water. Take two glasses a day. However, please be forewarned that the essence is very bitter.

To get rid of dandruff
Pound/ crush one ginger until it’s fine, then rub it into your scalp. Do it before bath time and then wash your hair.

Cure for colds
Drink some boiled rice water. Allow to cool first before drinking

Taking a bath directly after a meal, as this might cause your tummy to bulge. Instead, rest for half an hour or so before taking a bath.

Leaving your make up on when you go to bed. Make sure your face is thoroughly cleansed and moisturized before going to bed. If there are still remnants of make up on your face, this will cause your face to be oily and have acne problems.

Do not take too much oily or fatty food or you will have cholesterol problems

Do not take too much carbonated drinks as that will cause tummy problems

Do not bathe late at night as this will cause your body to age faster and your bones to decay faster as well.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Dengue Fever remedy

A Dengue Fever remedy with papaya leaves juice.
I would like to share this interesting discovery from a friend’s son who had just recovered from dengue fever. Apparently, his son was in the critical stage at the ICU when his blood platelet count dropped to 15 after 15 liters of blood transfusion.
His father was so worried that he sought another friend’s advice and his son was saved. He confessed to me that he give his son raw juice of papaya leaves.
From a pallet count of 45 after 20 liters of blood transfusion, after drinking the raw papaya leaf juice, his pallet count jumped instantly to 135. Even the doctors and nurses were surprised. After the second day he was discharged. He asked me to share this good news with friends and family.
According to the recipe, it is raw papaya leaves, 2 pieces just cleaned, pounded and squeezed with filter cloth. You will only get one tablespoon per leaf. So two tablespoons per serving once a day.
Do not boil or cook or rinse with hot water, it will lose its strength. Only the leafy part and no stem or sap.. It is very bitter and you have to swallow it all . But it works.
There is this other friend of mine who had dengue last year. It was a very serious situation for her as her platelet count had dropped to 28,000 after 3 days in hospital and water started to fill up her lungs. She had difficulty in breathing. She was only 32-year old. Doctor said there’s no cure for dengue.
We just had to wait for her body immune system to build up resistance against dengue and fight its own battle. She already had 2 blood transfusions and all of us were praying very hard as her platelet continued to drop since the first day she was admitted.
Fortunately her mother-in-law heard that papaya juice would help to reduce the fever and got some papaya leaves, pounded them and squeeze the juice out for her. The next day, her platelet count started to increase, her fever subsided.
We continued to feed her with papaya juice and she recovered after 3 days!!! Amazing but it’s true. I found that it’s also beneficial when one is having a sore throat.
Furthermore it’s so easily available. Blend the papaya leaves and squeeze the juice! It’s simple and miraculously effective!!

(Other recommended menu for dengue fever includes: 100 plus or any other isotonic drink, papaya juice, carrot juice, crab soup and also coconut water.)

How to stay young and beautiful.....the Malaysian way... LOL

Here are some tips on how some Malaysian women keep young.. The elixir of youth, these are practised by the old folks and then taught to the younger generation. It does not involve any magical potion, just some things you do or should not do in your everyday life to ‘delay’ the signs of aging.

1. Do not take ice

The older folks believe that ice causes the food to take a longer time to digest and turn to oil or fat and stay longer in your body.

2. No drinks right after meal or while eating
Wait for at least half an hour after having a meal before you take some water. Some people say that drinking after a meal causes you to bloat up and have the "bloated" feeling..

3. Do not use pillow under your head.
I think this is to allow the blood to flow easily in the body and head.. I might be wrong..

4. No fruit right after meal
People tend to have fruits as dessert. I read somewhere to get the most out of fruits (important for youthful look, so they say), we should not eat right away after heavy meals especially if they come with a lot of carbohydrates. Something to do with the reaction in the different type of sugar. They said the best is around an hour before or after the meal.

(errr... to some people it may sound like crap, but am just sharing what I learnt.. )

Traditional Malaysian Tips ...

Preventing hair loss

Get an Aloe Vera leaf, cut and squeeze squeeze the gel out. Mix up Aloe Vera gel with a white hibiscus flower and some hibiscus leaves.

Put the three ingredients into a blender with a cup of water.
You can apply the mixture on your head and massage into the hair gently. Wait until 30 minute then take a bath and wash your hair as usual.
Try this once a day, and you can see a difference after a week .
(these are some tips which I am translating for the benefit of others... most of the tips have been passed don from generation to generation....)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Come try some Malaysian food...

Great Malaysian recipes sites....





Legend of Puteri Santubong

There is a famous legend behind Mount Santubong in Sarawak, that recounts of two beautiful mythical sisters. Princess Santubong and Princess Sejinjang were both from the magnificient and idyllic mythical kingdom called Kayangan. Both were sent to earth to restore peace between the neighbouring villages of Pasir Kuning and Pasir Putih, with a strict condition that they must never quarrel with each other, as decreed by the mighty King of Kayangan.

Princess Santubong, an experienced weaver, was to rule over Pasir Kuning while Princess Sejinjang, a skilled rice thresher, was to rule over Pasir Putih. Princess Santubong’s intricately woven fabrics were an instant success while Princess Sejinjang’s paddy fields were greatly thriving. Both villages soon prospered greatly.

The beauty and talent of both princesses made them much sought after by suitors from all over the place. None won their heart until they met Putera Mahkota Serapi (Crown Prince Mahkota) from Matang. The crown prince fell in love with both of them, but they refused to be joint wives.

Because of him, they had an awful quarrel and exchanged blows. Sejinjang swung her thresher and hit Santubong’s cheek which made her fell flat on her back. Santubong threw her weaver at Sejinjang, hitting her directly at her head. The great King of Kayangan was so angry that he cursed both of them into mountains, putting an end to the fight.

It is said that the Mount Santubong resembles a woman lying on her back. The deep crevice at the peak is where the princess got hit on the cheek.

The legend was then told in a song called “Puteri Santubong” sung in local Malay dialect. It is often played by local radio stations. Lyrics of the song is as follows:

Oh…Puteri Santubong, Sejinjang sayang,
Kisah lama, zaman mensia maya.

Puteri Santubong, Puteri Sejinjang,
Penjaga gunung negeri Sarawak,
Manis sik ada dapat dilawan,
Anak dak dewa turun kayangan.

Oh… Santubong puteri bertenun kain malam,
Oh… Sejinjang puteri menumbuk padi siang.

Satu harinya dua kelahi,
Beranuk anuk sik renti-renti,
Seorang madah dirik bagus agik,
Seorang sik ngalah walau sampai ke mati.

Udah lejuk nya dua kelahi,
Lalu bertukuk nya dua puteri,
Sejinjang mengayun aluk ke pipi,
Tebik Santubong sampai gituk ari.

Tapi Santubong membalas juak,
Lalu ditikam batang beluak,
Sampei terkena Sejinjang kepala,
Lalu bertabor jadi Pulo Kera.

Kisah Santubong, kisah Sejinjang,
Asal berkawan jadi musuhan,
Kinik tuk tinggal jadi kenangan,
Pakei ingatan sepanjang zaman.

Yalah kisah duak ‘rang puteri,
Suka kelahi setiap hari,
Lalu disumpah raja kayangan,
Menjadi gunung negeri Sarawak

My favourite shopping areas....

Suria KLCC
Suria KLCC is a 1.5 million sq. feet (140,000 m²) shopping complex located at the base of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur City Centre. It is located on 6 floors, with anchor tenants Isetan, Parkson Grand, Tanjong Golden Village, Signatures Level 2 Food Court and Marks and Spencer. Suria is the native Malaysian word for Sunshine. It was opened on August 31, 1999.
It houses mostly luxury and fashionable shops, as well as cafes, restaurants, a 12 screen cinema, a concert hall, an art gallery, and a Science Discovery Centre, over 6 floors. It is almost directly underneath the Petronas Twin Towers, the 3rd tallest buildings in the world (and the tallest twin towers). It is one of Malaysia's most popular tourist destinations.

MidValley Megamall
Mid Valley Megamall is a 4.5 million square feet (420,000 m²) complex comprising a shopping mall, an office tower block, 30 signature offices and 2 hotels located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was opened in November 1999.
It has about 430 shops on five and a half floors. It has five anchor tenants; Carrefour, Jusco, Golden Screen Cinemas, Metrojaya and Harvey Norman. It also houses an 18 screen Cinema. Then there is a state-of-the-art bowling centre, a One-Stop IT Centre, two mega food courts and also a mega bookstore called MPH.
It houses a 48,300 square foot (4,500 m²) convention centre and it is situated adjacent to a 646 room business hotel named Cititel Midvalley and 30 units of exclusive 11 storey signature offices. A second hotel, Boulevard, opened in mid 2005. It has 390 rooms. Mega Mall is a key part of Mid Valley City, one of the country's largest urban development projects. It was awarded the Best Shopping Complex Award 2000 by Tourism Malaysia and Best Retail Development Award 2001 by FIABCI Malaysia. It has become one of Malaysia's most popular tourist destinations.
After The Gardens completed in 2007, it is linked to Mid Valley Megamall through a bridge. Not many know about this bridge, though, as it is hidden by Oasis, one of the main food courts in the Megamall, which probably contributes to the high contrast between crowds of the two shopping centres.
http://www.midvalley.com.my/ Bold

The Pavilion Kuala Lumpur is a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was successfully opened on 20 September 2007.
It consists of four major components; a retail mall, an office tower, two towers of residences and a proposed hotel.

1 Utama is a popular shopping mall in Bandar Utama, a suburb in the northern part of Petaling Jaya and is located just opposite Taman Tun Dr Ismail in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia.
The Old Wing, comprising the retail precincts of Centre Court and Courtyard as well as Jusco departmental store and supermarket, was opened in 1995. It is operated and developed by ÆON Co. (M) Bhd., the operator of Jusco chain of stores.
The New Wing, comprising the retail prescints of Promenade, Rainforest, Highstreet and Oval as well as Entertainment Zone, Parkson departmental store and Cold Storage supermarket is operated and developed by Bandar Utama City Centre Sdn Bhd. It was opened in December 2003 and was officially opened by the Sultan of Selangor, HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah on April 2, 2004.
Its gross built-up area totals 5,000,000 square feet (465,000 m²) , and it is one of the top shopping centres in Malaysia.

The Curve is an opened active lifestyle mall in Malaysia composed of more than 250 retailers and restaurants. It also features a four star hotel named Royale Bintang, and is connected to Ikano Power Centre, Tesco and Cineleisure Damansara with car parks underground with can accommodate 2,400 cars.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Westport -The garden port of Malaysia

For more info... check out http://www.westportsmalaysia.com The pics here were taken by my mobile camera. I think the scenes are pretty nice. Check it out...

A nasty accident.

A picture of an accident I happened to take on my mobile camera on the way home from work yesterday....It involved a black car(pic) and also a police car. Not sure if it was a car chase and crash or if it was just an unfortunate accident. It was near the junction of Paya Jaras, Sungai Buloh and also Guthrie Corridor Expressway.

Some pics I took of Putrajaya and Putra jaya Hospital...

This pic was taken at the Surgical clinic in Hospital Putrajaya. Hospital Putrajaya is a 272 bedded hospital located in the new government administrative area of Putrajaya in Sepang District, Selangor. The hospital provides secondary care services with emphasis on daycare management.Hospital Putrajaya, in keeping with its location within the Multimedia Super Corridor is to be managed and run based on the Total Hospital Information System (T.H.I.S) concept. It is conceptualized to be the leading hospital of its class and to be the model hospital for the future generation of hospitals of this type.
For more details on the hospital...http://www.hpj.gov.my/hpj/info.htm
My mother had her thyroid operation done there as other hospitals did not dare to do it as her thyroid was pretty complicated. Her surgeons, Miss Anita and Miss Normayah were wonderful and the end result was so neat all my mother could do was praise them continously.

Putrajaya, a planned city located just south of Kuala Lumpur, is the new federal administrative capital of Malaysia. Several Government offices have relocated there to gain relief from the overcrowding and congestion of Kuala Lumpur, which is Malaysia's largest city. However, Kuala Lumpur still serves as Malaysia's national and legislative capital for now. Putrajaya is a Federal Territory just like the city of Kuala Lumpur and the island of Labuan.
The city is named after the first Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra. In Bahasa Melayu, the Sanskrit-derived words "Putra" means son while "Jaya" means excel or success.
The city has only been established recently and it is still undergoing massive development: its development was hampered by the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
The city is built on a scale completely disproportionate to its current population, with a number of bridges spanning an artificial lake, Putrajaya Lake.
Although Malaysia is multi-ethnic with Malay, Chinese, Indian, Eurasian groups, the architecture in Putrajaya is predominantly (some would say excessively) modern Arabic in style. There have been calls for more traditional or even modern Malay, Chinese, Indian and Western architectural elements in some sectors of the city to make it less like a modern Persian Gulf capital

(taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Putrajaya )

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Local Cows

These are a couple of pics taken of the cows around my 'kampung' (rural area/home). Note how thin and unkempt they are. This is the usual cows you can find here in Malaysia not like the nice fat cows of Europe or the pretty Freisians in Netherlands or New Zealand.

These are a couple of pics taken of the cows around my 'kampung' (rural area/home).

Local hawker stalls

These are a few local hawker stalls my husband and I frequent around our "kampung" area. They may look ramshackle but the food is cheap, clean and good. We can get a meal for 2 people for RM10 or even less!!! Especially great for the days leading up towards the end of the month, or during economic downturns like this.

This is a Javanese owned stall selling nasi lemak and rice with dishes, pecal and o on...

Satay... Yummy skewered chicken served with peanut sauce, ketupat and cucumber...

Graffiti in Malaysia

These are a couple of graffiti pictures that can be found around KL. Actually it is illegal to draw graffiti but in these areas, they can get away with it. It kinda brighten up the monsoon drain area where they drew this anyway, in my opinion. :o)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Main celebrations in Malaysia - Deepavali

Commonly known as the Festival of Lights, the celebration of Deepavali (or Diwali) marks the triumph of good over evil, the victory of light over dark.
Gazetted by the Government as a one-day public holiday, it is celebrated here in Malaysia by the Hindu community - mainly consisting those of Indian ethnic origin - during the seventh month of the Hindu lunar calendar, which usually falls in either October or November.
And it is not called the Festival of Lights for nothing, for it is celebrated with a joyful vivacity, with bright lights and even brighter smiles, as though to underline the traditional meaning and message behind it. Even the word "Deepavali" is etymologically derived from the Sanskrit word that literally means "row of lights".
Let there be light
Deepavali owes its origins to the epic stories narrated in the Hindu religious scriptures.
Perhaps the most popular origin story is recounted in the Ramayana in which Lord Rama reunites with his wife Sita following a 14-year exile, and after having killed the demon king Ravana.
In the epic tale, the denizens of the kingdom of Ayodhya celebrated the prince's triumphant return to his homeland and later, his ascension to the throne, by lighting up their homes and the streets with earthen oil lamps.
This happened on the night of the new moon and is commemorated hence, as the celebration of Deepavali. However, the story of Lord Rama's victory over Ravana is only one out of many that is said to have given rise to this annual celebration.
One other popular tale remembered during the occasion is that of the battle between Lord Krishna and the evil asura (demon) Narakasura. Krishna emerged victorious after a long and drawn-out struggle, and his victory was celebrated with the lighting of lamps.
Yet others believe that Deepavali marks the day when the prideful and evil Mahishasura was vanquished at the hands of the goddess Kali.
Variations notwithstanding, these stories share a common thread; that of the removal of evil, to be replaced by that which is good.
This sense of renewal is reflected in the way Hindus prepare themselves for Deepavali.
Spring cleaning
In anticipation of the celebration, homes as well as their surrounding areas are cleaned from top to bottom; decorative designs such as the kolam are drawn or placed on floors and walls; and the glow of lights, whether emitted from the traditional vilakku (oil lamps fashioned out of clay) or colourful electric bulbs, brighten up the abode of both rich and poor, signalling the coming festivities.
Temples are similarly spruced up with flowers and offerings of fruits and coconut milk from devotees, becoming more abundant and pronounced as the big day draws closer.
The spring cleaning and decorating are significant for they not only symbolise renewal but also prepare for the welcoming of Devi Lakshmi, the goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, who is believed to visit homes and temples on the day. It is said she emerged from the churning ocean only days after the new moon of Deepavali.
Besides the cleaning of homes and temples, Hindus also prepare themselves by cleansing their bodies and minds. Many among the devout fast, or observe a strict vegetarian diet, and spend hours during the preceding weeks in prayer and meditation.
Celebrating goodness
The eve is usually spent making last-minute preparations for the next day. This is also the time when past quarrels are forgotten, and forgiveness is extended and granted.
On Deepavali morning, many Hindu devotees awaken before sunrise for the ritual oil bath. For some it is a symbolic affair (to signify purity) while others take full oil baths to remove impurities externally, as well as tone the muscles and nerves to receive positive energies. Then it's straight to the temples where prayers are held in accordance with the ceremonial rites.
The rest of the day is taken up by receiving guests, as is customary here in Malaysia. Most devout Hindus tend to be vegetarian, but that doesn't change the fact that Deepavali is the day to savour the many delicious Indian delicacies such as sweetmeats, rice puddings and the ever-popular murukku.

(taken from : http://allmalaysia.info )

Main Celebrations in Malaysia -Christmas

The observance of the birth of Jesus Christ on Dec 25 is celebrated in Malaysia like everywhere else in the world; it is a time for family and friends; hope and rejoicing; love and understanding; and giving and forgiving.
However, the image of a white Christmas - that of chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and Jack Frost nipping at the nose - doesn't quite fit in too well with a country that is merely seven degrees shy of the Equator. The average temperatures here range from a low of 22 °C to a high of 33 °C, so a sunny (or perhaps, rainy) Christmas is a given.
By far, Christmas is viewed as a universal celebration that carries a secular rather than religious meaning. One need only look at Santa Claus and his appeal to children of all religious and ethnic backgrounds, to realise how much it cuts across the board.
Perhaps due to this wide appeal (or some would say, commercialisation), retailers and hoteliers take an active approach by putting up non-religious motifs such as snow, stockings, Santa and his reindeers, candy canes and, of course, the Christmas tree. White, green, red and gold are the traditional colours of the season.
Urban areas like the capital city of Kuala Lumpur and the greater Klang Valley come alive during the Yuletide, with bright colourful lights and decorations perking up homes and business premises, providing a festive atmosphere.
Shopping malls and hotels especially have become increasingly sophisticated in their decorations, trying to outdo the competition in their bid to attract shoppers and guests.
In many ways however, Christmas in Malaysia is a public holiday and is still very much a religious affair. To prepare themselves spiritually, the Christian community here, who make up about 7% of the population, observe Advent, the four-week period prior to Christmas, with prayers, Bible-reading and for some, fasting.
Candle, candle burning bright
The word "Advent", is defined in Latin as "to come to" or "coming", and signifies the birth, as well as the final coming of Jesus Christ. The period of Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas (which marks the beginning of the Church Year), and lasts anywhere from 21 to 28 days.

As the big day looms closer, preparations are made: homes are decorated; Christmas trees, usually artificial, are put up; greeting cards are delivered; gifts are bought and placed under the tree; and festive songs - Jim Reeves being ubiquitous - are played over and over again.
It is also a common sight to see choir groups and church communities, sometimes with a tanned Santa in tow, making their rounds, visiting orphanages, old folks homes, and hospital wards, among others.
Many Christian groups also stage shows and pageants, commonly depicting the Nativity. This usually takes place on the eve of Christmas.
'Twas the night before Christmas
Christmas Eve is a day that is as much anticipated as the big day itself. Traditionally, it is a time for families and loved ones to gather; marked by the Christmas dinner which is usually a noisy affair.
Then it's time for prayer and thankgiving as families congregate in churches for midnight mass or Christmas service. A Nativity play (or Christmas pageant) is usually held before service begins.
In Malaysia, it is common to see people from different beliefs (among the non-Muslims) attending these church gatherings, to observe if not to soak in the festive spirit. These midnight services are characteristically very lively; people of different backgrounds and ethnicity (both locals and foreigners), all decked in their best, could be seen singing hymns and carols with much enthusiasm, led by a spirited choir.
The celebration then continues till the wee hours of the morning. Typically, families would have late meals (known here as supper) at home, during which the colourful Christmas lights would be blinking, Jim Reeves would be singing in the background, the kids would be running around excited, and gifts would change hands.
Ho, ho, ho...
Christmas day starts off with Christmas mass (or church service), a decidedly more solemn affair compared to the Eve service.
Then, as is customary in Malaysia during festivals, Christian families would entertain guests in their homes throughout the day, in adherence to the concept of 'rumah terbuka' or 'open house'. In a way, this unique practice makes the celebration of Christmas more meaningful, more in line with the spirit of the season.
Of course, the festivities wouldn't be complete without food. Though you may still find the traditional Western offerings of the season - from nuts and fruitcakes to apple pie and roast turkey - much of the menu is made up of local delicacies including such favourites as devil's curry and beef rendang.
Though Christmas is marked as a one-day holiday, for many the celebrations do not end until after New Year's day, which is seen by many as simply an extension of Yuletide

Main Celebrations in Malaysia - Chinese New Year

A time for family reunions, the lion dance, firecrackers, mahjong, mandarin oranges and giving/collecting ang pow, the Lunar New Year - or Chinese New Year (CNY), as it is more commonly known in Malaysia - highlights some of the most fascinating aspects of Chinese tradition and rituals.
Its origin can be traced back thousands of years, to the legend which tells of a fearsome mythological creature known as Nian that is said to have once terrorised China, devouring people on the eve of CNY. To ward off the beast, red-paper couplets were pasted on doors, firecrackers were set off throughout the night, and huge fires were lit.
Today, the prevalence of the colour red, and firecrackers, form part of the CNY celebrations throughout the world, as a part of custom and tradition.
The festival, which once also marked the beginning of spring in China, begins on the first day of the lunar calendar year, the first day of the new moon, and ends on the 15th day, known as Chap Goh Meh, the last day of the full moon.
However, celebrations are normally confined to the first few days and the last day. In Malaysia, the first two days are gazetted as public holidays.
Preparing for celebrations
Preparations tend to begin a month prior to the New Year, when people start buying new clothes, decorations and foodstuff; houses are cleaned from top to bottom, then decorated with red lanterns; banners; plastic or paper firecrackers (the real item is prohibited); panels inscribed with calligraphic characters bearing themes of happiness, wealth and longevity; and greeting cards received from well-wishers.
The eve of CNY is probably the high point of the celebration as it is on this day that family members from far and near will return home for the reunion dinner, to rekindle family ties and enjoy the sumptuously prepared meals. Dinner is usually made up of seafood and dumplings; delicacies include waxed duck, prawns, braised dried oysters, scallops and “prosperity vegetables”.
After the reunion feast, entire families will try to stay up all night in adherence to shou sui, a practice which is believed to bring one's parents longevity. To while away the hours, it is common for many to gamble; the sound of mahjong chips clattering against each other throughout the night is not uncommon.
At the stroke of midnight, the New Year is ushered in. Firecrackers and fireworks are prohibited, so the requisite din to herald the New Year falls upon human voices and song, and modern “improvisations” such as the recorded sounds of exploding firecrackers.
Kong Hee Fatt Choy!
With daylight, homes again become a buzz of activity. Ceremonial candles are lit, incense burned, new clothes (red is the custom) are put on, and greetings of “Kong Hee Fatt Choy” or “nian nian you yu” (which means “may every year be filled with extras”) are made.
As is commonplace among Malaysians during religious/cultural festivities, Chinese families invite their relatives and friends over to their homes during CNY. Guests arrive bearing gifts of mandarin oranges or kam, which symbolises gold or wealth.
It is also customary for married couples to give children and unmarried adults money inserted in red packets known as ang pow, as a gesture to mean that the recipient will enjoy a fruitful and wealthy life.
Beliefs and tradition
The celebration of CNY is not all freewheeling fun though, as there are taboos and beliefs, some of which are spiritual in nature, that need to be observed.
For example, though the feasting generally goes on for the whole 15-day period, a break, of sorts, is taken on the third day. Businesses remain closed, and visiting is discouraged on that day, as it is believed that, otherwise, misfortune may befall the family.
Also, no one is allowed to sweep the floor on the first day of the New Year as it is considered unlucky; that one would accidently sweep away one's good luck and fortune if they do so.
As a contrast, what is believed to bring good fortune and ward off evil is the lion which, according to legend, was the only animal that managed to wound the Nian. This gave rise to the lion dance, as the villagers of the story tried to mimic the lion in their attempt to frighten the beast away.
Here in Malaysia, troupes of lion dancers travel in trucks during the 15-day period to perform at individual homes and businesses, even hotels and shopping complexes. It is one of the most spectacular sights during this period, where performers regularly shimmy up poles to pick up ang pows, while moving to the beat of the drums.
Different celebrations
On the seventh day of CNY, which is considered as the birthday of all human beings, the Cantonese community partakes in a dish called yee sang, a simple mixture of thin slices of raw fish, shredded vegetables, herbs and sauces.
All the ingredients for the dish are served separately on the same plate, and would then be tossed and mixed, carried with chopsticks high in the air by all at the table, while saying out loud the word loh hei, which means liveliness, prosperity and longevity. This practice is said to herald prosperity for the coming year.
The eighth day is a time of prayer. The Hokkien community performs a ritual where offerings are made to Tian Gong, the God of Heaven. This often extends into the ninth day.
The 15th and last day, Chap Goh Meh, is observed in several ways. In Penang, the Hokkien community commemorates this day with a parade (Chingay parade) where stilt walkers, lion and dragon dancers, and acrobats move along the busy streets of Georgetown, to the beat of gongs, drums and cymbals.
However, the highlight of Chap Goh Meh, which is often regarded as the Chinese Valentine's day, has got to be the throwing of oranges into the river. It is believed that maidens would attract good husbands if they adhere to this practice.

(taken from http://allmalaysia.info/ )

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Main celebrations in Malaysia- Hari Raya Puasa

Muslims celebrate the festival of Aidilfitri – popularly known as Hari Raya Puasa, or simply Hari Raya (Day of Celebration) in Malaysia – to mark the culmination of Ramadhan, the holy month of fasting.
It is a joyous occasion for Muslims, as it signifies a personal triumph, a victory of self-restraint and abstinence, symbolising purification and renewal

Fasting during the month of Ramadhan is compulsory or wajib, whereby Muslims are required to abstain from satisfying their most basic needs and urges, daily, between sunrise and sunset. It is one of the five tenets of Islam; as is the paying of zakat (alms tax for the poor), which must be tithed by the end of Ramadhan.
In Malaysia, the period of fasting ends when the new moon is sighted on the evening of the last day of Ramadhan. The actual sighting is conducted by state appointed religious officials at various vantage points (usually at hilltops) throughout the country.
If the crescent is sighted, the following day is then declared the first day of Aidilfitri, which is also the beginning of the 10th month of the Muslim calendar Syawal.
A time to forgive and forget
Aidilfitri is celebrated for the whole month of Syawal, but in Malaysia, only the first two days are observed as public holidays. It is widely common however, to see Muslims taking the first week off from work.
Urbanites make their annual pilgrimage to their hometowns (this is popularly referred to as balik kampung), to be with parents, relatives and old friends. Thus, cities like Kuala Lumpur get relatively quiet during the festive season of Aidilfitri.

The Muslim community ushers in the first day of Aidilfitri by congregating at mosques for morning prayers. Everyone is usually decked out in their traditional best to mark the special occasion. Men are usually dressed in Baju Melayu, while the Baju Kurung, the quintessential Malay attire for females, is the prefered choice for the fairer sex.
Then it's usually breakfast at home with the family, followed by a visit to the cemetery where deceased loved ones are remembered; graves are cleaned and cleared of overgrowth, and prayers are offered to Allah.
This is also a time to forgive and forget past quarrels. Asking for pardon is done in order of seniority. The younger members of a family approach their elders (parents, grandparents etc) to seek forgiveness, to salam (Muslim equivalent of a handshake), then kiss the hands of the older person as a sign of respect.
The usual greeting (that is uttered with the salam) during Aidilfitri is “Selamat Hari Raya”, which means “Wishing you a joyous Hari Raya”.
Children and old folks are given duit raya or gifts of money, in small envelopes. In recent years, many givers have opted for the Chinese practice of putting the money in ang pow packets; however instead of the usual red, the packets are green in colour.
Although the first three days are celebrated on a grander scale, many Muslims hold “open house” throughout the month, where friends and neighbours of other races are invited to join in the celebrations.

Before the big day
The joy of Hari Raya Puasa actually begins before the first day. A week or so before the big day, excitement mounts as the house is readied for the celebration with new furnishing and decorations.
Of particular interest are the last 10 days of Ramadan, where many keep vigil for Lailatul Qadr (The Night of Decree), the night when the Quran was sent down. It is believed that angels descend and shower blessings on that particular night, so homes are brightly decorated with oil lamps or pelita.
Mosques, as well as government and some commercial buildings, are also decorated and brightly lit to mark the auspicious day. The most predominant colour seen in decorations during this season is green which is commonly associated with Islamic items. It is often combined with yellow or gold.
As for motifs, by far the most frequently used symbol is that of the ketupat (rice cakes wrapped in coconut leaves); it is invariably used on Hari Raya greeting cards, hanging decorative items, and as a promotional image for the season.
The ketupat is traditional Hari Raya fare and is often served with beef rendang (beef cooked with spices and coconut milk) and/or satay (grilled meat on a skewer).
Other festive delicacies include lemang (glutinous rice cooked in bamboo tubes), serunding (dessicated coconut fried with chilli) and curry chicken.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hang Tuah

In the early days of Sultan Mansor’s reign in Malacca, a son is born to Hang Mahmud and his wife Dang Merdu Wati. The child is named Hang Tuah. When Hang Tuah is seven, his parents decide to move to Malacca. There they stay in the house of a relative not far from the residence of the Datuk Bendahara. Hang Mahmud starts a small provision shop, which his wife helps to run, while he himself goes into the forest to collect wood.
Hang Tuah meets Hang Jebat, Hang Kasturi. Hang Lekir and Hang Lekieu. Together the boys, who were to become lifelong friends, learn the art of silat. Hang Tuah is elected leader of the group of youngsters and they declare loyalty to him. At around the age of ten Hang Tuah and his friends, while on a boat into the open sea notice three boats approaching in their direction. The boats are those of pirates. The boys take refuge on an island, and when the pirates land on the island, the youngsters, kill several of them and wound ten others. The survivors escape. The wounded pirates are handed over to the Batin of Singapore, who tells the boys that their brave deed would be brought to the attention of the Datuk Bendahara. In Malacca, the boys’ deed becomes the talk of the town.
Fearing repercussions, Hang Tuah and his companions decide to delve deeper into the arts of silat and also to learn other skills from the guru named Sang Andi Putra lives. Their training lasts forty-four days. Sang Andi Putra advises them to go to his brother Sang Persanta Nata in Majapahit, Java, to further their mastery of the silat and mystical arts. Meanwhile the Datuk Bendahara meets Hang Mahmud and compliments the boys on their bravery.
On day while chopping firewood in front of his house, Hang Tuah sees a man running amok and killing several persons. Hang Tuah kills the amok. A few days later a similar incident causes disturbances in Malacca. The Datuk Bendahara is at that time on his way to the palace to meet the Sultan. Hang Tuah protects him from the violent crowd, and even succeeds in killing the leader of the group and a few others. Impressed, the Datuk Bendahara and his wife decide to “adopt” Hang Tuah and his companions.
Datuk Bendahara takes Hang Mahmud, his wife and the boys to pay respects to the Sultan. Already aware of their bravery as well as their exploits, the Sultan orders the five youths to serve him. Each of them receives a keris and is also given the title of “Tun”.
A few days later Sultan Mansor and his entourage leave Malacca for Java where the Sultan is to marry Raden Galoh Chandra Kirana, a Majapahit princess. In Majapahit a plot is hatched by Pateh Gajah Mada to kill Hang Tuah. First a hulubalang, and next Taming Sari, the famous warrior of Majapahit are given the task. Hang Tuah succeeds in killing the soldier and later also destroying Taming Sari with the sword belonging to the Majaphit warrior. This famous sword, also named Taming Sari, possessing the power of giving immortality to its user is presented to Hang Tuah by the Datuk Bendahara.
Hang Tuah and his friends visit Sang Persanta Nata at Gunung Winara as instructed by Sang Andi Putra. Here they receive seven days of intensive training at the hand of this famous teacher, who predicts that Hang Tuah would one day become the Admiral of the Malacca fleet as well as attain invulnerability. At the palace another attempt is made to kill Hang Tuah. Hang Tuah manages to kill his attackers. Sultan Mansor returns to Malacca with his new bride. Hang Tuah is welcomed as a great hero. Soon he is raised to the rank of Admiral or Laksamana.
A few years later, the Sultan becomes interested in marrying Tun Teja of Inderaputera, now known as Pahang. At the Sultan’s command, Hang Tuah and his companions sail to Inderaputra. Tun Teja is already engaged to be married to Megat Panji Alam of Trengganu. Her father, Bendahara Seri Buana, troubled by the impending visit by Hang Tuah, send word to Megat Panji Alam. Megat Panji Alam comes face to face with Hang Tuah who has just landed in Pahang and challenges Hang Tuah to a fight. The battle lasting several days, ends with Hang Tuah killing Megat Panji Alam. Tun Teja is married to Sultan Mansor in Malacca.
The Bentara of Majapahit, hearing of Sultan Mansor’s second marriage is upset. Pateh Gajah Mada says that he will create trouble in Malacca. Another plot is hatched to kill Hang Tuah, and seven warriors go to Malacca from Majapahit to try to achieve this end. Disguised as thieves they cause unrest in the town, hoping thereby to draw Hang Tuah out. Hang Tuah also disguises as a thief and joins them. Together they steal valuable items, including eight boxes of gold, from the palace. Killing the seven thieves, Hang Tuah resents their heads together with the stolen gold to the Sultan. Hang Tuah is now allowed free access to the Sultan’s palace.
The special treatment given to Hang Tuah by the Sultan arouses jealousy among court officials. A scandal is created involving Hang Tuah. The Sultan now upset with Hang Tuah, orders the Datuk Bendahara to immediately get rid of Hang Tuah. Datuk Bendahara sends Hang Tuah into hiding in his own orchard, but spreads the rumour that Hang Tuah has been killed.
Hang Jebat is appointed Admiral in Hang Tuah’s place, and he is now given free access to the palace. While in the palace, Hang Jebat misbehaves himself. The helpless Sultan and his consorts, thrown out of the palace by Hang Jebat, move in with the Datuk Bendahara. Hang Jebat now abandons himself to a life of debauchery. Those sent by the Sultan to apprehend him are killed. This he does in order to avenge the Sultan’s unjust treatment of Hang Tuah.
The Sultan now regrets at having so hastily sentenced Hang Tuah to death. Hang Hang Tuah alone could, if he were still alive, overcome Hang Jebat. Seeing the Sultan’s plight Datuk Bendahara asks the Sultan if he would be prepared to pardon Hang Tuah in the event that the hero was still alive. When the Sultan says that he would do anything to have Hang Tuah back, Datuk Bendahara confesses that in fact Hang Tuah is still alive.
Hang Tuah returns a few days later. He is fully pardoned by the Sultan, and is informed of the crisis in Malacca caused by Hang Jebat. Following a few days of rest, Hang Tuah is ready to face Hang Jebat. He discovers, however, that Jebat has been given possession of Taming Sari, following his own “death.” Despite his loss of confidence, Hang Tuah proceeds to face Hang Jebat. When at the palace, Hang Tuah calls out for his friend, Hang Jebat is taken aback at the fact that Hang Tuah is still alive. A reconciliation, however is no longer possible, in view of Hang Jebat’s disloyalty to the Sultan.
The battle between the two greatest warriors of Malacca begins. Hang Tuah, recovering Taming Sari for a moment, succeeds in killing his best friend, Hang Jebat, with it. Once again Hang Tuah becomes the Sultan’s favourite. He is, however, wary, knowing that he has enemies constantly on the lookout for opportunities to destroy him. Sultan Mansor dies and is succeeded by Sultan Mahmud as ruler of Malacca.
Soon after ascending the throne Sultan Mahmud loses his consort. Hearing of the beauty of the princess of Gunung Ledang, he decides to approach her for her hand in marriage. Hang Tuah, Hang Setia and Tun Mamat, the Datok Bendahara’s son, travel to Gunung Ledang, or Mount Ophir, to negotiate the terms of the proposed marriage. The princess is prepared to marry the Sultan if certain requirements are fulfilled. Due to the difficulties in fulfilling the conditions, the Sultan abandons his intention of marrying the princess.
Hang Tuah decides to forsake court life. Just before dawn one day, accompanied by Tun Mamat, Hang Tuah goes to the mouth of Sungei Duyong, taking his kris, Taming Sari, with him. He kisses the weapon and throws it into the river. A few days later he leaves the court to live a life of solitude at Gunung Ledang.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

More description on ghosts....

Hantu Raya

Hantu Raya in early Malay animism, refers to a supreme ghost or demon that acts as a double for a black magic practitioner. Like the Toyol it has a master. In Malay folklore, it is a spirit which is suppose to confer the owner with great power. Hantu means ghost and raya, great, in Malay.

Hantu Raya originates in Malaysia and is said to be the master of all ghosts (hantu). It is the leader of the underworld legion and those who make alliance with it, are considered powerful. Hantu Raya is the acronym for Hantu or Ghost and Raya, large, huge, supreme, enormous, great, as in "Malaysia Raya" and "Asia Raya" and Hari Raya (Great Celebration or Festival).

In modern Islamic Malay culture, the belief in Hantu Raya is no longer valid, but rather it is identified with a demon, Satan and the Djinn (Genie). Muslims believe that djinns and demons are more powerful than man but less intelligent

Spirit worship
In ancient times, the Malay spirituality was a mix of animism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Spirit worship was not uncommon and these beliefs persisted in rural areas until the latter half of the 20th century. In the case of Hantu Raya, the owner is said to have formed a pact with demon or inherited it from older generations in the form known as Saka or legacy which is handed on down the generations. In return for the advantages and power, the owner agrees to provide for the ghost and appoints a new owner for it before dying.[1]

According to legend, people who fail to untie their bond with the hantu will suffer especially during death. Hantu Raya will resemble the look of its owner ever after death and go roaming. People seeing him will assume that the deceased has been brought back to life. It will search for food and new owner at night and goes around haunting people.

Another legend goes that the dying soul will face difficulty in dying and becomes a living corpse or zombie

Hantu Raya is capable of materializing itself into another human being or animals and sometimes makes itself a double for the owner. Among its other trick is to form its owner's shape and sleep with the owner's partners. It can be used to perform heavy duties as commanded by its master, even to harm his enemies. It can also possess or cause death to other people if so ordered.

Normally Hantu Raya feasts on acak – an offering made for the spirits, containing: yellow glutinous rice, eggs, roasted chicken, rice flakes and a doll. In some cases Hantu Raya is offered the blood of a slaughtered animal as a sacrifice. Food offerings must strictly be observed in a timely manner, to avoid any harm caused by the hantu.

Pelesit is a Malay term for an inherited spirit or demon which serves a master.

The Pelesit is reared by a woman as a shield for protection, guidance, and most probably as a weapon to harm other people. In that way it is associated with a black magic practitioner. It is the female version of Hantu Raya which confers great power on the owner. [2]

In old Malay culture some people chose to live alone thus isolating themselves from society. They practiced black magic in order to gain strength, power, protection, beauty, but not popularity. Some gained a certain level of popularity or renown but there were others who remained in secrecy and refused to mingle with people.

This practice is popular among Malays who are animists and involved in the so-called Saka (the inheritance of a spirit from one generation to another). Pelesit is commonly associated with the grasshopper since it has the ability to turn itself into one. Some say it is the green sharp pointed-head grasshopper.

Pelesit is one of the ghost mentioned in "Hikayat Abdullah", written by Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir, much to the amusement of Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, his employer.

Typically the owner, the Bomoh (shaman), uses the spirit in an exploitative way for monetary gain. The pelesit is first used to attack someone randomly, then the same Bomoh will be called to exorcise the so-called demon inside the victim (while the spectators have no idea that the bomoh is playing tricks on them). Later, a certain amount of money is given to the bomoh as a token of appreciation.

A bomoh keeps his pelesit in a small bottle and offers it his own blood every full moon

Pelesit is a dark spirit revered by shamans in Malay culture. It feeds on blood and work as a servant for its master. It demonizes people and causes chaos in society. Pelesit must always have a continuous host and therefore must be pass down from one generation to the next. It should always be taken care of and fed constantly because if not, the demon will soon create havoc among the local inhabitants of its master's village, especially after the master's death.

The Pontianak, Kuntilanak, Matianak or "Boentianak" (as known in Indonesia, sometimes shortened to just kunti) is a type of vampire in Malay folklore, similar to the Langsuir. Pontianak are women who died during childbirth and became undead, seeking revenge and terrorizing villages

In folklore, Pontianak usually announces its presence through baby cries or turn themselves into beautiful lady and frighten or kill the unlucky who enter or pass through their vicinity. It usually disguises itself as a beautiful young lady to attract its victim (usually male). Its presence sometimes can be detected by a nice floral fragrance of the ‘kemboja’ (a type of flower) followed by an awful stench afterwords. The distance of a pontianaks cries are very tricky. The Malays believe that if the cry is soft means that the pontianak is near and if it is loud then it must be far.

A Pontianak kills its victims by digging into their stomachs with its sharp fingernails and devouring their organs. Pontianaks must feed in this manner in order to survive. In some cases where the Pontianak desires revenge against a male individual, it rips out the sex organs with its hands. It is believed that Pontianaks locate prey by sniffing out clothes left outside to dry. For this reason, some Malays refuse to leave any object of clothing outside.

People believe that having a sharp object like a nail helps them fend off potential attacks by Pontianak, the nail being used to plunge a hole at the back of the Pontianak's neck. It is believed that when a nail is plunged into the back of a Pontianak's neck, she will turn into a beautiful woman, until the nail is pulled off again. The Indonesian twist on this is plunging the nail into the apex of the head of the kuntilanak.

Pontianak is associated with banana trees, and its spirit is said to reside in them during the day.

Some people believe that if you hear a dog howling that means that the pontianak is far away. But if a dog is whining that means the pontianak is nearby.

Langsuir is a version of Pontianak, popular in Malaysia as one of the deadliest banshees in Malay folklore. Different from the Pontianak, which always appeared as a beautiful woman to devour the victim, Langsuir would possess the victim and suck blood from the inside, slowly causing a fatal death. It is believed that langsuir are from women who had laboring sickness (meroyan) as a result of suffering the death of their children and who themselves died afterwords. Portrayed as hideous, scary, vengeful and furious, the Langsuir is further characterized as having red eyes, sharp claws, long hair, a green or white robe (most of the time), a rotten face and long fangs. It is also believed Langsuir has a hole behind the neck(which is used to suck blood) and if people put Langsuir's hair in this hole(or cut their claws), Langsuir will be a human again. These are the common images described by people who claimed to have seen one. Pontianaks are sometimes claimed to be the still-born children of langsuir.

The Penanggalan or `Hantu Penanggal` is a peculiar variation of the vampire myth that apparently began in the Malay Peninsula. "Penanggal" or "Penanggalan"' literally means "detach", "to detach", "remove" or "to remove". .

According to the folklore of that region, the Penanggalan is a detached female head that is capable of flying about on its own. As it flies, the stomach and entrails dangle below it, and these organs twinkle like fireflies as the Penanggalan moves through the night.

Due to the common theme of Penanggal being the result of active use of black magic or supernatural means, a Penanggal cannot be readily classified as a classical undead being or a vampire as per Western folklore or literature. The creature is, for all intent and purposes, a living human being during daytime (much like the Japanese Rokurokubi) or at any time when it does not detach itself from its body.

In Malaysian folklore, a Penanggal may be either a beautiful old or young woman who obtained her beauty through the active use of black magic, supernatural, mystical, or paranormal means which are most commonly described in local folklores to be dark or demonic in nature. Another cause where one becomes a Penanggal in Malaysian folklore is due to the result of a powerful curse or the actions of a demonic force, although this method is less common than the active use of black magic abovementioned.

The Penanggalan is usually a female midwife who has made a pact with the devil to gain supernatural powers. It is said that the midwife has broken a stipulation in the pact not to eat meat for 40 days; having broken the pact she has been forever cursed to become a bloodsucking vampire/demon. The midwife keeps a vat of vinegar in her house. After detaching her head and flying around in the night looking for blood the Penanggalan will come home and immerse her entrails in the vat of vinegar in order to shrink them for easy entry back into her body.

One version of the tale states that the Penanggal was once a beautiful woman or priestess, who was taking a ritual bath in a tub that once held vinegar. While bathing herself and in a state of concentration or meditation, a man entered the room without warning and startled her. The woman was so shocked that she jerked her head up to look, moving so quickly as to sever her head from her body, her organs and entrails pulling out of the neck opening. Enraged by what the man had done, she flew after him, a vicious head trailing organs and dripping venom. Her empty body was left behind in the vat. The Penanggal, thus, is said to carry an odor of vinegar with her wherever she flies, and returns to her body during the daytime, often posing as an ordinary mortal woman. However, a Penanggal can always be told from an ordinary woman by that odor of vinegar.

The Penanggalan's victims are traditionally pregnant women and young children. Like a banshee who appears at a birth rather than a death, the Penanggalan perches on the roofs of houses where women are in labour, screeching when the child is born. The Penanggalan will insert a long invisible tongue into the house to lap up the blood of the new mother. Those whose blood the Penanggalan feeds upon contract a wasting disease that is almost inescapably fatal. Furthermore, even if the penanggalan is not successful in her attempt to feed, anyone who is brushed by the dripping entrails will suffer painful open sores that won't heal without a bomoh's help.

A Penanggal is said to feed on human blood or human flesh although local folklore (including its variations) commonly agrees that a Penanggal prefers the blood of a newborn infant, the blood of woman who recently gave birth or the placenta (which is devoured by the Penanggal after it is buried). All folktales also agree that a Penanggal flies as it searches and lands to feed. One variation of the folklore however claims that a Penanggal is able to pass through walls. Other, perhaps more chilling, descriptions say that the Penanggal can ooze up through the cracks in the floorboards of a house, rising up into the room where an infant or woman is sleeping. Sometimes they are depicted as able to move their intestines like tentacles.

Protection and Remedies
The most common remedy prescribed in Malaysian folklore to protect against a Penanggal attack is to scatter the thorny leaves of a local plant known as Mengkuang which would either trap or injure the exposed lungs, stomach and intestines of the Penanggal as it flies in search of its prey. These thorns, on the vine, can also be looped around the windows of a house in order to snare the trailing organs. This is commonly done when a woman has just given birth. However this practice will not protect the infant if the Penanggal decides to pass through the floorboards. In some instances, it is said that months before birth, family members of the pregnant women would plant pineapples under the house(traditional malay houses are built on stilts and thus have a lot of room underneath). The prickly fruit and leaves of the pineapple would deter the penanggalan from entering through the floorboards. Once trapped, a Penanggalan who attacks the house can then be killed with parangs or machetes. As an extra precaution the pregnant woman can keep scissors or betel nut cutters under her pillow as the Penanggalan is afraid of these items.

Another way of killing the vampire is for some brave men to spy on the Penanggalan as it flies around in the night. Midwives who become Penanggalans at night appear as normal women in the daytime. They however can be identified as Penanggalans by the way they behave. When meeting people they will usually avoid eye contact and when performing their midwife duties they may be seen licking their lips, as if relishing the thought of feeding on the pregnant woman's blood when night comes. The men should find out where the Penanggalan lives. Once the Penanggal leaves its body and is safely away, it may be permanently destroyed by either pouring pieces of broken glass into the empty neck cavity which will sever the internal organs of the Penanggal when it reattaches to the body, or by sanctifying the body and then destroying it by cremation or by somehow denying the Penanggal from reattaching to its body upon sunrise.

Hantu Air
Hantu Air, Puaka Air or Mambang Air is the Malay translation for Spirit of the Water , Hantu Air is the unseen dweller of watery places such as rivers, lakes, seas, swamps and even ditches. It is mainly associated with bad things happening to people which includes drowning, missing, flooding and many more.

The term Hantu Air may sound spooky to Malays but when the term is translated into English it creates a new understanding of the meaning that besets the culture of the Malay people. For a long time the Malay Archipelago was ruled by animism {the believe in spirits} and people tended to associate almost anything with the spiritual world including nature.

Some people believe that the spirit will haunt places associated with water during or after it has been discarded by its previous owner. The unguided and lost spirit will soon roam the place. When it is hungry, it will feast on anything including humans.

Superstitions arising among the locals tell of this evil spirit dwelling in watery places where it sometimes disguises itself as an old tree trunk, a beautiful lady, fishes or other animals in order to attract unassuming people into its trap. When caught the human will be eaten or perhaps drowned to death.

There is a ceremony that is still popular among the local older Malays called Semah Pantai especially in the East Coast of Malaysia. It is a ceremony whereby fishermen and seafarers honor the sea spirits and at the same time ask for blessings and protection when they venture out to sea to catch fish.

Polong is Malay for a spirit enslaved by a man (most of the time) for personal use. Like the Hantu Raya and Toyol, it has a master. It is an unseen ghost that can be used by a black magic practitioner to harm someone. It is particularly meant to harm other people, especially when the owner has wicked intentions towards these people.

Polong is said to have been created from the blood of a murdered person and this blood is put into a bottle for one to two weeks before the spirit is invoked with incantations and magic spells.
After two weeks, the owner will start to hear sounds coming out of the bottle. It is the sound of crying. By then he should cut his finger and drain the blood into the bottle to feed the demon. This is the sign of allegiance and of loyalty to serve the master. The blood which feeds the demon is said to have tied both parties together: one as Master and the other as the servant.

No one has ever illustrated the figure of the demon but all agree that it is evil and hideous.

Polong has almost a similar role as Pelesit, furious when not fed and will start to harm society. Normally the owner will keep the Polong inside the bottle but unleashes it when needed. People who have been attacked by Polong are left with bruises, a few markings and almost always have blood coming out of their mouths.

During possession, a Polong will not listen to anyone except its owner. The owner will come and pretentiously exorcise the demon in order to get money from people. But in some cases a polong which is "sent out" by its owner refuses to free the body that it has attacked. In fact it goes a step further by causing more suffering to the victim. At this stage a Bomoh (witch-doctor) or spiritual leader such as an Imam is called to cast out the polong.

Many of them know that the polong is easily weakened by black pepper seeds (mix with oil and few cloves of garlic). Normally, the shaman will place the seeds on certain parts of the body to cast off the polong. If he is a Muslim, this may be followed by Quranic recitations. The tormented polong will cry and plead, asking for the recitations to cease. It will then confess to the shaman the name of its master. However, it is not uncommon for the polong to name some other person to misguide the pawang (shaman). Hence, the admission must be taken cautiously.

A Toyol is a mythical spirit in the Malay mythology of South-East Asia. It is a small child spirit invoked by a bomoh (Malay witch doctor) from a dead human foetus using black magic. It is possible to buy a toyol from such a bomoh.

A person who owns a toyol uses it mainly to steal things from other people, or to do mischief. According to a well-known superstition, if money or jewellery keeps disappearing mysteriously from your house, a toyol might be responsible. One way to ward off a toyol is to place some needles under your money, for toyols are afraid of being hurt by needles

Some say that toyol has its origins from Mecca near the Kaaba (the belief refers to the Pre-Islamic Era where the Arabs used to kill their children and bury them all around Mecca. The Chinese (Cantonese) name for the toyol is guai zai (literally "ghost child"). The corresponding term in the Hokkien dialect is kwee kia with "kwee" meaning "ghost" and "kia" meaning "child".
People normally associate the appearance of a toyol with that of a small baby, frequently that of a newly born baby walking in nakedness with a big head, small hands, clouded eyes and usually greyed skin. More accurately, it resembles a goblin. It can be seen by the naked eye without the use of magic, though they are unlikely to be spotted casually

Invoking a Toyol
Keeping a toyol has its price. In essence, the spirit is that of a still-born (or aborted) child, and its temperament reflects this.

According to most Asian practices and beliefs, the afterlife of a person is taken care of by the family, in the form of a tablet. It is usually made of wood, with the name of the deceased engraved. A collection of tablets at an elaborate family altar is a typical item in a large (and often wealthy) family. Following the same principle, the master of the toyol keeps its tablet and cares for it. He must feed it with a few drops of his blood everyday, usually through his thumb or big toe. In addition, it requires certain coaxing and attention, along with offerings. Such offerings might include candy and toys, for the toyol is essentially a child and must be kept happily entertained. According to other stories, a toyol must be fed with blood from a rooster.

In old village tales, people keep toyols for selfish but petty gains. They use such spirits for theft, sabotage and other minor crimes. Serious crimes, like murder, are usually beyond the capability of these toyols. A person who suddenly becomes wealthy without explanation might be suspected of keeping a toyol. The toyol is kept in a jar or an urn, and hidden away in a dark place until needed.

What happens at the end of the "contract" is not very clear. It could be that the tablet, along with the urn, is buried in a graveyard (with the relevant rituals), and the spirit is then laid to rest. An alternative method is to dispose them in the sea. Or else, a toyol gets passed down in a family through the generations. This seems to suggest that once you obtain a toyol, not only are you stuck with it for the rest of your life, but all your descendants will also be condemned to own it

Although seemingly cunning, toyols are supposedly not very intelligent. It is said that they are easily deceived by marbles and sand and strands of garlic hanging on the door post or placed on certain parts of the house. The toyol will start playing with these items until it forgets its task at the intended victim's house. Money placed under mirrors has the potentcy to ward off toyols due to a phobia of their reflections

Orang Bunian
Orang Bunian are supernatural beings in Malay legends, similar to elves.

They are said to exist in large communities, mimicking human social structures, with families and clans. Orang Bunian are said to inhabit the deep forests, far from human contact, but they are also known to live near human communities, and are even said to share the same houses as human families. Some hauntings are attributed to orang bunian.

Orang bunian possess great supernatural powers, and have been known to befriend and assist humans, in particular pawangs or bomohs (malay shamans). Orang bunian are known to abduct human children, and are often blamed for leading people astray in the deep forest.

As orang bunian are very similar to human beings (except for the fact that they are usually 'ghaib' or 'halimunan', i.e. invisible and have supernatural powers) it is not unknown for them to intermarry with humans. Orang bunian live far longer than human beings. Stories are recounted of men who married orang bunian, but pining for their families they left behind, decided to leave the orang bunian. Upon their return to human society, they found that everyone they once knew has died, and that many years have passed- similar to the tale of Rip Van Winkle

(the description about ghosts was taken from http://en.wikipedia.org)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

KLCC and Bukit Bintang

Kuala Lumpur City Centre refers to the commercial centre located in the heart of the city that includes the Petronas Twin Towers, the Suria KLCC Shopping Mall, a park, a 5-star hotel and prime office blocks. Strategically located in the centre of Kuala Lumpur, which gives rise to its name, KLCC and the areas around it are some of the main destinations for shopping, clubbing and business for both locals and internationals.

The Suria KLCC Shopping Mall lies between the Petronas Twin Towers, Malaysia's highest man-made structures. Its strategic location in the heart of Kuala Lumpur and easy accessibility by subway trains from locations around Kuala Lumpur make this a popular destination for both locals and tourists. Suria KLCC is also located in the prime commercial area of Ampang, which is in turn, a hotbed for nightspots and tourist attractions.

Visitors can access the mall through a few entrances, including a direct tunnel link from the subway LRT station across the road and through the landscaped park. Consisting of several floors, the mall has a wide range of upmarket outlets dealing out the latest fashion merchandise, electrical products, leather goods, watches, cosmetics, jewellery, household items and much more.

Bukit Bintang is Kuala Lumpur's ultimate shopping district as well as a fantastic place for entertainment and family recreation.
Located in the Golden Triangle, Bukit Bintang can easily be reached by bus, taxi or elevated high-speed trains dubbed the Monorail system. The area is also a commercial centre with many offices and businesses operating in Bukit Bintang.
At weekends, Bukit Bintang is packed to the brim with people from morning to night, making this one lively place not to be missed out!

(taken from http://www.kuala-lumpur.ws)