I was on my way to MaTic in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur to watch the Colours of Malaysia Performance by Orkestra Traditional Malaysia when I met a Japanese and Korean tourist on the GoKL bus. They were heading to MaTic to watch the performance like me too. Intending to be a good host, I introduced myself to them and we exchanged contacts with each other.
The Japanese tourist, whose name is Miyako was all excited about the cultural performance that we will be watching that night. Apparently she is a huge fan of all things cultural and wishes to learn more about the cultural diversity in Malaysia. But she made a couple of statements that rendered me speechless. One of it is that she thinks that it is a shame that Islamization in Malaysia has somewhat restricted culture and heritage preservation. I wanted to tell her that it is not true, but I zipped up my mouth as there are truth in her words.
Islamization has indeed somewhat stopped some of the Malay culture from being passed down to the younger generation. For example, plays and dances with ritualistic elements like “Mak Yong”, “Main Puteri”, and “Ulek Mayang”, is somewhat prohibited by the religious authorities and we don’t see such dance and plays so openly anymore.
Like what Miyako say, Islamization in Malaysia has also changed the way Malay-Muslims in Malaysia dressed. Clothing that’s similar to Arabian robes are much more prefered during festive seasons in comparison to the traditional Malay clothing that the elder generations used to wear.
I have nothing to say to defend against Miyako’s words, sadly. And I will refrain from making any sensitive statements as while I can see that there are truth in her words, I would like to believe that efforts are being made by various bodies and authorities in Malaysia to preserves the unique cultures in Malaysia.
Ministry of Tourism and Culture and JKKN have been aggresively campaigning to introduce and also reintroduce traditional Malaysian culture to not only the people of Malaysia, but to tourists as well.
One of their efforts, I believe is the Colours of Malaysia Performance by Orkestra Traditional Malaysia that we had the privilege to watch that night in MaTic. The entry to the performance was free of charge and all is welcome to watch.
Colours of Malaysia Performance by Orkestra Traditional Malaysia was led by the lively and talented conductor, Mr. Yazid Zakaria.
Mr. Yazid Zakaria introducing the orchestra members.
One of the traditional song being played. This one is ‘Canggung’, originating from Perlis.
A traditional song from Sarawak
Dancers in beautiful costumes dancing to the tune of the instruments.
Beautifully choreographed dance
Dancers dancing to the song ‘Boria’ originating from the Pearl of The Orient, Penang.
Pretty ladies dancing ‘Joget’
And what’s a Joget without a partner?
Graceful dancing by the ladies
The musical instrument ‘Er Hu’ being played.
A member of Orkestra Traditional Malaysia playing the Seruling.
The performances that night was nothing short of fantastic. Audiences were not only entertained by beautiful music but Conductor Yazid Zakaria made sure everyone had fun too. There’s plenty of interactive gimmicks. Audiences were also invited to dance on stage too. Yes, yes. I danced on stage with my son too. No. They did not pull us up there. I volunteered and drag my son along. I thought, why not? It was a good and clean fun.
Colours of Malaysia Performance by Orkestra Traditional Malaysia was indeed a wonderful experience and I thought that it is a good way to showcase the cultural diversity in Malaysia to the world. I’m definitely looking forward for more and hope this will be a continuos effort.