Culture Calendar

From traditional festivals to contemporary gatherings, our Culture Calendar invites you to experience the city’s cultural fabric.

January 2024

14 – 17

All day

Pongal

Malaysia

Read more here: Pongal

25

All day

Thaipusam

Malaysia

Read more here: Thaipusam

February 2024

10 Feb

All day

Chinese New Year

Malaysia

Read more here: Chinese New Year

14 Feb

All day

Hari Moyang (Puja Pantai)

Kampung Sungai Judah, Pulau Carey, Selangor

Mah Meri community

18 Feb

All day

Jade Emperor’s Birthday

Malaysia

Read more here: Chinese New Year

21 Feb – 4 Mar

10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

National Craft Day

Craft Complex, Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur

More info at FB page: KraftanganMalaysia

22 – 25 Feb

10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

Kuala Lumpur Alternative Bookfest [KLAB]

Central Market, Kuala Lumpur

More info: KLAB.my

23 Feb

All day

Kaliamman Festival

Pangkor Island

Experience the interconnectedness of cultures, where locals believe the Indian Goddess Kali, is the younger sister of the Chinese Goddess Kuan Yin, uniting both communities. Seek blessings at the temple for protection and well-being in the coming year.

24 Feb

All day

Lantern Festival & Chap Goh Mei

Malaysia

Read more here: Chinese New Year

24 Feb

All day

Masi Magam

Malaysia

Best at Sri Pathira Kaliamman temple, Pangkor Island or Malacca: from Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple to Arulmigu Sannasimalai Andayar temple.

Masi Magam is a colourful Hindu festival celebrated in Malaysia. Statues of gods and goddesses are carried from temples in a procession to the seashore, rivers, or ponds. Here, prayers and rituals are held, with thousands of devotees gathering for the event. Devotees participate in a ritual bath in the water, believing thye will attain moksha (liberation from the cycle of rebirth)

Pangkor Island has a unique tradition associated with Masi Magam. A chosen devotee acts as a representative during the festival. This individual carries the “Sakhti Karagam,” a copper vessel filled with symbolic offerings. The Sakti Karagam is believed to represent the hopes and prayers of the devotees being carried to the deity.

24 Feb

10:00 a.m.

BWM Talk Series: The Birth and Early Years of Badan Warisan Malaysia by Datin Waveney Jenkins

Badan Warisan Heritage Centre, No. 2 Jalan Stonor, Kuala Lumpur

Read more here

Fee: RM30 for Non-Member, FREE for BWM Member

24 Feb

All day

Keris Pageantry – The Art of the Embellishment

Harta Space, Ampang

25 Feb

11:00 a.m. – 5:45 p.m.

Rimbun Dahan Open Day

Kuang, Selangor

Read more here

March 2024

21 Feb – 4 Mar

10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.

National Craft Day

Craft Complex, Jalan Conlay, Kuala Lumpur

More info at FB page: KraftanganMalaysia

5 Mar

All day

Insect Awakening Day (Da Siu Yan)

Sin Sze Si Ya Temple, Kuala Lumpur

Life throws curveballs sometimes, and in Malaysia, there’s an interesting folk practice for dealing with them – the “da xiao ren” (villain hitting) ritual. While the name might sound dramatic, it’s not about actual violence. This tradition has roots in Taoist practices where farmers would perform rituals to ward off evil spirits believed to harm their crops. Over time, the practice evolved to symbolically address personal challenges or setbacks, targeting negativity rather than specific enemies.

9 Mar

10:30 a.m.

Meet The Author: ‘As Equals: The Oei Women of Java’ by Daryl Yeap

Badan Warisan Heritage Centre, No. 2 Jalan Stonor, Kuala Lumpur

Red more here.

Price: Free for BWM members, RM30 per pax for non-members.

10 Mar

09:00 am – 02.00 pm

Hari Moyang

Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Bumbun, Pulau Carey, Klang

Deep within the Mah Meri community is a longstanding tradition known as Hari Moyang (Aik Moyang). This ritual serves as a significant expression of respect and appeasement towards the spirits of the sea. According to oral history, the tradition originated many years ago. Legends passed down through generations tell the story of a junk ship caught in a powerful storm off Pulau Carey, near Tanjung Rhu. Miraculously, the ship and those on board found safe passage. Hari Moyang is believed to have been established in response to this event, serving as a way to express gratitude and ensure continued safe passage for the Mah Meri people, who rely on the sea for their livelihood.

10 Mar

11.40 am – 12.30 pm

KLAF 2024: Architecture, Culture & Heritage

Talk by Janet Tee

National Textile Museum

Book via KLAF App / More info at FB: klafestival

12 Mar – 11 Apr
Ramadhan

Malaysia

A sacred month of fasting, reflection, and shared community growth.

12 Mar

(3rd day of the 2nd lunar month)

Wen Chang’s Birthday (Taoist God of Wisdom, Literature, Books and Writing)

Temples: Sin Sze Si Ya, Kuala Lumpur and Cheng Hoon Teng, Malacca

In traditional Taoist rituals, especially during the Wen Chang Festival, offerings to the Taoist God of Wisdom (Wen Chang) may include garlic, spring onions, Chinese celery, and Chinese parsley (coriander).

15 Mar

serving from 7.28pm

Ethnic Sarawak Night : A-Likou | of the River | Melanau

4-course curated dinner at RM210 per diner

Temu House, 49, Jalan 16/9e, Seksyen 16, 46350 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Inspired by traditional Melanau cuisine, around a traditional Linut Dulang. Bookings: Temu House

20 Mar

All day

Nowruz

TBC

Nowruz, the joyous celebration of spring! This ancient festival, also known as Iranian or Persian New Year, transcends borders and unites diverse ethnic groups worldwide. Marked by the arrival of spring, Nowruz typically falls around March 20th or 21st.

24 Mar – 28 July

All day

Titik Garis Bentuk

Ilham Gallery, Kuala Lumpur

Featuring the works of 27 artists who use drawing as a centre in their practice, the exhibition examines how artists are redefining the medium by blurring the boundaries between drawing and other art forms including installation, animation, and performance. Through their wide range of works encompassing figuration, landscape, architectural drawing, and minimalism, artists are expanding conventional definitions of drawing as mark-making on a two-dimensional surface through the innovative use of materials and techniques.

25 Mar

All day

Panguni Uthiram

Kuala Lumpur

Celebrates the divine unions of several revered deities. Lord Shiva is believed to have married Parvati, symbolising the balance of power in the universe. Another legend tells of Lord Muruga’s marriage to Devasena, representing the union of love and virtue. Some traditions also associate the day with the wedding of Lord Rama and Sita, a timeless tale of love and devotion.

Look out for a chariot procession winding its way through the streets of Kuala Lumpur towards Sentul.

29 Mar

All day

Good Friday

Malacca, Sabah & Sarawak

Malacca's Easter traditions feature a unique blend of cultures. On Palm Sunday (Datuk Pikol Balak) and Good Friday (Datuk Mati), devotees from various backgrounds, including Peranakan Chinese and Indians, gather at St. Peter's Church to place fragrant flower offerings (bunga rampai) at the foot of a Christ statue.

April 2024

6 Apr

3 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Holi

Shree Lakshmi Narayan Mandir

Holi, the joyous festival of colours, traces its origins back to Multan, Pakistan. In ancient times, Multan, known as Kasyapa-pura ("city of Kashyapa"), housed the Prahladpuri Temple, believed to be built by Prahlada himself.

Legend tells the story of Prahlada, a young boy defying his evil father, King Hiranyakashipu, who demanded worship. Prahlada's unwavering devotion to Lord Vishnu enraged the king, leading to failed attempts on Prahlada's life.

The climax arrived with a pyre. Holika, the king's demon sister, tricked Prahlada into joining her, believing her protective cloak would shield them both. However, the flames consumed Holika, while Prahlada remained unharmed. This symbolic victory of good over evil is celebrated with bonfires during Holi.

The throwing of coloured powders signifies the jubilant aftermath, a tradition that continues to this day. While the Prahladpuri Temple is no longer a Hindu pilgrimage site, the legend of Multan and Prahlada remains a cornerstone of the Holi festival.

5 or 6 Apr

All day

Laylatul Qadr (last 10 nights of Ramadan)

Malaysia

During the final ten nights of Ramadan, a veil of mystery descends. One of these nights, Laylatul Qadr, is believed to be a night of immense blessings and spiritual significance. Though the exact date remains unknown, many hold the 27th night of Ramadan to be particularly sacred.

9 - 17 Apr

All day

Chaitra Navratri

Malaysia

“Chaitra” means the beginning of a New Year. Hindu scriptures tell the story of Lord Brahma initiating the creation of the world during Chaitra, the first month of their calendar. This auspicious time, falling in March-April, coincides with the start of a new season, marked by the blossoming of new life. Some believe Goddess Durga descended on the first day of Chaitra Navratri, a nine-day festival, while Brahma began creation at her urging. Others view Chaitra Navratri as a period when Lord Shiva allowed his wife Durga to visit her parents' home. This timeframe is also associated with the triumph of good over evil, as the Goddess Durga is said to have slain the demon Mahishasura during these nine days.

13 Apr

All day

Vesakhi (Sikh New Year)

Aluth Avurudda (SInhalese New Year)

Malaysia

13 - 15 Apr

All day

Songkran

Malaysia

13 - 16 Apr

All day

Thingyan

Myanmmar community across Malaysia

14 Apr

All day

Puthandu (Tamil New Year)

Malaysia

15 Apr

All day

Poila Baisakh (Bengoli New Year)

Vishu (Malyalee New Year)

Malaysia

20 Apr-20 Oct

All day

The Lain Lain Project

The Lain Lain Gallery, Level 6, GMBB, Kuala Lumpur

The exhibition seeks to rekindle our shared roots through the ancestral wisdom gleaned from Borneo’s craft practices, Malayan communities and global communities.

FB: Borneo Laboratory

22 Apr - 10 May

9:00 am - 5:00 pm (working days only)

The Al Hambra - Paradise On Earth

International Institute of Islamic Thought & Civilisation
No.24, Persiaran Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin, Taman Duta, 50480 Kuala Lumpur

An exhibition by the Embassy of Spain in Malaysia, Patronato de la Alhambra y Generalife & ISTAC-IIUM

23 Apr

7:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.

OA Symposium: Archiving Orang Asli Cultural Heritage

Online event, register here.

The Orang Asli Archive at Keene State College in the United States of America will be hosting the “Spring 2024 OA Symposium” on 23 April 2024, from 7.30pm to 10pm via Zoom. This time the theme is ‘Archiving Orang Asli Cultural Heritage’, and features two sessions and four speakers.
26 Apr - 5 May

TBA

Kuching Craft Week

Hikmah Exchange Event Centre (HEEC), Kuching

Celebrate Sarawak's Exquisite Crafts! The annual Sarawak Handicraft Festival is a 10-day extravaganza showcasing the region's diverse and beautiful handicraft traditions. It provides a platform for skilled artisans to exhibit their talents and connect with passionate collectors and buyers.

27 Apr

8 a.m. - 11 a.m.

Museum & The City: A Walk Through The Vibrant Heart of KL

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

Join us for an enriching journey as Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, in collaboration with Kerja Jalan, proudly presents the first installment of our series: "Museum and the City." As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the museum, we invite you to embark on an exploration of the vibrant surroundings and walkable areas around the vicinity of the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia.

This walk will cover hidden gems and notable buildings within 3km of the museum's vicinity and it is estimated to take between 1.5 - 2 hours.

Limited slots available! Don't miss out on this extraordinary opportunity to celebrate art, culture, and the spirit of exploration with us.

Register here. For any inquiry, kindly contact the Education Department 03-2092 7031 or email to education@iamm.org.my.

28 Apr

9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Malayalee traditions and culture

Royal Selangor Club, Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur

A thought-provoking session, discussing the timeless relevance of Malayalee traditions and culture.
Attendance at the venue is restricted to registered participants due to limited seating availability.
28 Apr

9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Rimbun Dahan Open Day

Kuang, Selangor

Read more here

May 2024

1 May

All day

Bung Bratak Day

Kampung Tembawang Sauh, Bau, Sarawak

Bidayuh Hearts Beat Strong at Bung Bratak Day! This vibrant cultural celebration draws the Bidayuh community together at the summit of the majestic 300-meter Bung Bratak hill, located near Kampung Tembawang Sauh, about 52 kilometers from Kuching. Expect a kaleidoscope of colors and a whirlwind of cultural performances that will immerse you in the rich heritage of the Bidayuh people.

Call 019-8581515/019-8497664 or visit FB: Bung Bratak Heritage Centre for more info.

5 - 11 May

TBC

Kapit Dayak Cultural Festival

Kapit Town Square, Sarawak

Organised by the Kapit District Office, is your gateway to the vibrant tapestry of Dayak culture. Immerse yourself in a world of traditions, passed down for generations. This festival isn't just about entertainment; it's a bridge to connect with the Dayak community. Engage with friendly locals, learn about their customs, and gain a deeper appreciation for the rich heritage that thrives in the heart of Borneo.

For more info call: Kapit District Office at 084-796322/019-8676812

7 May – 8 July
Monday - Sunday : 9:00 AM to 5:00PM
Closed on Public Holidays (17 June 2024)

Ningyo: Art and Beauty of Japanese Dolls

Central Hall, Muzium Negara, Jalan Damansara, Kuala Lumpur

Explore the heritage and history of Japanese dolls at the NINGYŌ: Art and Beauty of Japanese Dolls exhibition. Organized by the Japan Foundation, co-organized by Department of Museums Malaysia, Ministry of National Unity, and the Embassy of Japan, with the desert sponsored by Imuraya, the National Museum of Malaysia will display a variety of dolls from different parts of Japan, showcasing their cultural importance and role in Japanese society over the centuries. The exhibition is divided into four sections: 'Ningyō for children's growth,' 'Ningyō as art,' 'Ningyō as folk art,' and 'Spreading Ningyō culture,' featuring 67 carefully chosen dolls that highlight the history and significance of Japanese doll-making.

Learn more here

10 - 16 May

TBC

Samarahan Food & Cultural Festival

Halaman Samarahan, Sarawak

Savour delicacies, explore local arts & customs, rediscover childhood games at this vibrant cultural celebration.

For more info call: Samarahan Municipal Council at 082-669000/014-2742540

10 - 26 May

TBC

Roban Food Festival

Pekan Lama & Baru Roban, Betong, Sarawak

Races, boats, bites & crafts! Immerse yourself in Iban traditions, food & skills. Don't miss the replica longhouses!

For more info call: Roban Sub District Office at 016-8561587

12 May

2 p.m.

Museum Talks: Conflict in Sarawak’s Borderlands 1942-1945 and 1963-1966

Arts and Crafts Gallery, Borneo Cultures Museum, Kuching, Sarawak
Colonel Kim Hoskin, in his talk “Conflict in Sarawak’s Borderlands 1942-1945 and 1963-1966”, will focus on the involvement of the inhabitants of the northeastern area of Sarawak (the tri-border area of Sarawak, Sabah and Indonesia) during the Japanese Occupation and the Confrontation conflicts. He will highlight some of the events that occurred there. While the story of the Borneo Interior Force of 1945 can only be told indirectly, that of the Border Scouts and others involved in Confrontation can be related from the speaker’s personal experience.
13 - 23 May

2 p.m.

International Museum Day: Museums For Education And Research

Penang State Museum and Art Gallery
TBC
16 May

10.00 a.m. - 11.30 a.m.

Curator's Sharing Session: Percussions on Hawking Drum - A Forgotten Tradition

Education Workshop, Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia

Despite a complex and controversial relationship between music and Islamic teachings, the use of the drum has played a significant role in Islamic history and traditions. A beloved pastime of the elite, falconry evolved from its pre-Islamic Arabian roots to become a symbol of the knights' hunting prowess and as a marker of high social status.

This session, studying artefacts from India, Persia, and others, will reflect on the use of the Hawking Drum as an opportunity to learn more about its fascinating history and as a unique cultural feature in Islamic tradition.

Registration: Please email your details: full name, institution/organisation, contact number and session dates to education@iamm.org.my . for further enquiries, you may call +6.03.2092.7031

17 - 19 May

TBC

Badadun Festival and Buffalo Racing

Kampung Lubok Piasau, Limbang, Sarawak

TBC

18 May

10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Museum Open Day

Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

10 - 26 May

All day

Sembahyang  Dato' Chachar

Sri Muthu Mariamman Temple, Malacca

Held over two weeks with key ceremonies:
Day 1: Punniyathanam, Paal Ponggal, Sakhti Karagam, Kapoo and Ubayam

Day 6: Karagam procession

Day 8: Sakhtikaragam, Receiving of effigies, Aggini kapparai

Day 9: Tying of kapoo, Kavadi's, Visesha pooja, Maheswara pooja (Annathanam) and Ratham (chariot procession)

Day 10:  Manjalneed Aatam

Day 11: Antar Ahmi

22 May

Wesak Day

Buddhist temples across Malaysia

Observed on the full moon in May, Wesak is the most sacred day for Buddhists worldwide. It holds immense significance as it commemorates three pivotal events in the life of the Buddha: his birth, attainment of enlightenment, and passing away (Parinirvana) – all believed to have occurred on this day.

Vesak is also known by other names, such as Buddha Jayanti ("Birth of the Buddha") and Buddha Purnima ("Full Moon of the Buddha").

24 - 26 May

10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Event details at FB: Sukaseni

Borneo Native Festival

Central Market (Pasar Seni), Kuala Lumpur

TBC

30 and 31 May

All day

Tadau Kaamatan

Sabah

TBC

30 May - 1 June

All day

Irau Aco Lun Bawang

Lawas Stadium, Sarawak

June 2024

1 and 2 June

All day

Hari Gawai

Sarawak

TBC

Did you know that over 60 types of Gawai ritual festivals have been celebrated in the past, with some disappearing while others have evolved over time?

6 June

All day

Babulang

Sarawak

TBC

Pesta Babulang means Harvest Festival in the language of the Bisaya community, an Orang Ulu ethnic group found in Limbang, (northern Sarawak), Sabah and Brunei. The festival marks the end of the harvesting season and a bountiful harvest and welcomes a new farming cycle.

28 - 29 June

All day

Besaug Dalat

Sarawak

TBC

Also known as the Dalat Regatta, it is a social event, for the Melanau community residing in the Mukah Division. Held over two days, the race unfolds along the Oya River.

28 - 30 June

All day

Rainforest Music Festival

Sarawak

TBC

28 June - 7 July

All day

Sibu Craft Week

Sarawak

TBC

July 2024

12 - 14 July

All day

Nukenen

Sarawak

The Bario Highlands of central Sarawak come alive with cultural celebration during Pesta Nukenen. This festival, organized by the Kelabit people, is a vibrant showcase of their traditions.

15 - 22 July

All day

Kaul Mukah

Sarawak

The Melanau people celebrate Pesta Kaul, an annual festival that cleanses their communities of bad spirits and influences. "Kaul" translates to "coming together" in their language.

Pesta Kaul serves as a thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest to the Ipok, spirits who act as guardians. The Melanau also pray for the Ipok's continued protection and blessings for future crops.

Held during bulan Pengejin, the first month of the Melanau calendar (typically March or April), Pesta Kaul features the Bapa Kaul, or "Father of Kaul," chanting mantras to officiate the festivities. Throughout the week, people share traditional food by the river mouth. Villagers construct giant swings ("tibou") for entertainment and to appease the spirits. Food stalls and traditional games add to the lively atmosphere.

The festival culminates in a ceremonial offering. Led by elders, the Melanau present food, cigarettes, and betel nut arranged on "Seraheng," a sago palm leaf structure.

Up-river Melanau towns in Dalat and Medong celebrate with traditional canoe races and other river sports, although modern times have seen the introduction of powerboat races.

As bulan Pengejin marks the start of their calendar, Pesta Kaul also signifies the Melanau New Year.

20 July

All day

Bung Jagoi Day

Sarawak

Every third Saturday in July, the Jagoi Bidayuh community comes together for Ondu Bung Jagoi, or Bung Jagoi Day. This annual celebration serves as a powerful reminder of their shared heritage, all tracing back to their ancestral village – Kampung Jagoi Gunung in Bau.

26 - 28 July

All day

Batang Kayan Lundu Festival

Sarawak

Blog post is in the oven, preheat your curiosity!

26 - 28 July

All day

Selangau Carnival

Sarawak

Blog post is in the oven, preheat your curiosity!

26 July - 3 August

All day

Belawai

Sarawak

Blog post is in the oven, preheat your curiosity!

26 July - 18 August

All day

Kuching Festival

Sarawak

Blog post is in the oven, preheat your curiosity!

August 2024

8 - 11 Aug

All day

Pantu festival (Tapah Festival)

Sri Aman, Sarawak

Blog post is in the oven, preheat your curiosity!

8 - 17 Aug

All day

Borneo Culture Festival

Sibu, Sarawak

Blog post is in the oven, preheat your curiosity!

10 Aug

All day

Kuching City Parade

Kuching, Sarawak

Blog post is in the oven, preheat your curiosity!

17 - 25 Aug

All day

Julau Pepper Festival

Julau town, Sarawak

Blog post is in the oven, preheat your curiosity!

23 Aug - 1 Sept

All day

Daro Festival

Daro, Sarawak

Blog post is in the oven, preheat your curiosity!

28 Aug

All day

Mandi Safar

Tanjung Kling, Malacca

The enduring commercial and cultural ties between the Malays and Tamils over centuries have fostered a dynamic exchange and assimilation of select cultural elements. The festival of Mandi Safar serves as an illustrative instance of such cultural interaction.

Annually celebrated by the Malays in Peninsular Malaysia on the last Wednesday of the second Muslim month, Safar, this festive occasion draws a multitude, including numerous young individuals accompanied by vigilant elder women. Travelling in groups via traditional bullock carts and other modes of transportation, they converge at riverbanks and seaside locations. Upon reaching their destinations, they establish camps along the seashore or riverbanks for the night and the ensuing day. During this period, they engage in lively entertainment, featuring the recitation of pantuns (rhyming quatrains in Malay) accompanied by the rhythms of drums and traditional dances such as joget or ronggeng.

On the day of the festival, participants partake in ceremonial bathing in the sea, hence the use of the term "mandi," meaning bathing in Malay, especially in a river. It is customary for many elderly individuals to immerse a piece of paper bearing a special prayer into the water and consume some of the sacred liquid. Those unable to reach the river or seaside are encouraged to at least drink water from the sea or river during the festival. This practice is rooted in the belief that it purifies the spirit and provides protection against potential misfortune in the future.

The Tamil poetic work "Paripadala" comprises twenty-four extant poems, nine of which are dedicated to the river Vaiyai. In these poems, the traditional Tamil poetic theme of love unfolds within the context of bathing festivities. The tenth poem, ascribed to Karumpillaipputanar, holds particular significance for this discussion. This poem, presented in English translation, details ancient Tamil bathing festivities, revealing parallels with the Mandi Safar festival as celebrated in Peninsular Malaysia. (Source:The Malay-Tamil Cultural Contacts with Special Reference to the Festival of "Mandi Safar" by S. Singaravelu from Asian Folklore Studies, Vol. 45, No. 1 (1986), pp. 67-78 (12 pages))

October 2024

3 - 12 Oct

All day

Navarathri (Sharad Navarathri)

Malaysia

Blog post is in the oven, preheat your curiosity! https://www.instagram.com/p/CyXaDvCrs5O/

November 2024

1 Nov

All day

Deepavali (Diwali)

Malaysia

WIP