Posts Tagged ‘Culture’

Community mapping project at Brickfields

October 18th, 2012
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 This is an interesting project by Projek Rumah Ibadat Kita and Kota Kita. I was surprised (or was I?) to read that “based on a survey they carried out among the participants, the majority had not entered places of worship other than their own”.  How true is this? I’ve been inside most places of worship except mosques. Had climbed the stairs inside the minaret of a mosque though…

I think there’s no genuine initiative to expose or teach about the various cultures to others. Mostly its one-sided only.


THE founders of Projek Rumah Ibadat Kita and volunteers took to the streets of Brickfields last weekend to carry out a community-mapping project to promote religious understanding between different faiths using the arts.

The project involved 17 volunteer-participants aged from 18 to 30 years old from different ethnicities and faiths. There were also four facilitators and two project coordinators project.

“For three months, from August to October, we explored the Brickfields community through a series of different workshops comprising research, photography and video. Through these workshops, we learned and discovered the many treasure troves and stories this small community has to offer,” co-founder and project manager Lew Pik-Svonn said.

They also produced educational materials such as Have a Holy-Day — a colourful booklet for self-guided walking tours to the places of worship in Brickfields.

Interesting sight: The participants stopping at a temple during the walking tour.
Interesting sight: The participants stopping at a temple during the walking tour.

“We felt it was important for people to know and understand different religions. Many cultures are also intertwined with religion. Misunderstandings happen when there is a shallow perception of other religions. We want to fill in this gap,” Lew said.

She said the community-mapping project in Brickfields was the first in a series of three. Their next destination is Tuaran in Sabah.

The organisers are from Kota Kita, non-profit arts collective with a mission to empower community members and enrich their relationship with the community. Their most notable project is Projek Chow Kit Kita, which was a similar community-mapping effort in Chow Kit.

The event also saw cultural performances from the Malaysian Indian Arts and Culture Association and a choir from the Tamil Methodist Church. Along the way, the participants had opportunities to sample food and observe photo and video exhibitions. In collaboration with Projek Rumah Ibadat Kita, Lew said they have also launched BrickfieldsEats ( which is a project to map the food found in Brickfields and their stories.

Welcome: Performers from the Malaysian Indian Arts and Culture Association.Welcome: Performers from the Malaysian Indian Arts and Culture Association.

Fahmi Reza, who is the co-founder and project designer of Projek Rumah Ibadat Kita, said based on a survey they carried out among the participants, the majority had not entered places of worship other than their own.

“What is worse is that they do not even ask questions. We wanted to approach this serious subject on a lighter note where they can ask questions and learn from community members. If you observe the situation in our schools nowadays, there is so much segregation. How does one know the other person’s culture and faith without communication? ” he asked.

Projek Rumah Ibadat Kita consists of 24 people from different ethnicities and faiths who want to promote their belief in a society that embraces diversity.

The community-mapping tour started outside YMCA along Jalan Tun Sambathan 4 with more than 100 people attended the three-hour walking tour which covered visits to places of worship that included the Orthodox Syrian Church, Church of Our Lady Fatima, Madrasathul Gouthiyyah Surau, Tamil Methodist Church, Seng Hong Temple, Sri Sakthi Vinayagar Temple, Buddhist Maha Vihara, Sri Krishna Temple, Sri Maha Muneswarar Temple, Sri Kandaswamy Kovil and Sree Veera Hanuman Temple.



Ramli Ibrahim first Malaysian to receive India’s Sangeet Natak Akademi Award

October 11th, 2012
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Congratulations to Ramli Ibrahim, who is well known for his traditional Indian dance performances. He is also an Fulbright Award recipient (Distinguished Artist Award 1999).

Ramli Ibrahim, Malaysia’s cultural icon and legendary dance choreographer of the Indian classical dance, received on Tuesday the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award 2011, the first for a Malaysian.

The award is recognised as the highest national honour conferred on performing artists, gurus and scholars of the performing arts. It is the most coveted honour artistes aspire to get.

Ramli, 59, received the award from Indian President Pranab Mukherjeeat a special ceremony held at the Presidential House.

Thirty-five other artistes from different fields received the award, as well.

The award is in recognition of his contributions to Odissi, said to be the oldest surviving dance form of India, on the basis of archeological evidence.

Originating from Orissa, an eastern Indian state, it is one of eight classical dance forms of India.

“The Sangeet Natak Akademi Award is something I will revel in,” said Ramli, who was obviously over the moon after receiving the honour.

“Being the first Malaysian to receive the prestigious award, it is something to be treasured, said the internationally-renowned dancer who has performed overseas for more than three decades.

“It has been a great struggle to be someone in the Indian classical dance and certainly, in Odissi, as with over one billion population, there are already a critical mass of very talented people in India.

“Hence, one has got to be really good to be able to stand out and be recognised.

“So, the recognition is something I will treasure,” he told Bernama in an interview.

Ramli is instrumental in transforming the dance scenario in Malaysia by boldly charting new paths and single-handedly establishing Odissi as a widely appreciated dance form.

Accomplished in ballet, modern, and Indian classical dance, he is the artistic director of the Sutra Dance Theatre, having choreographed stunning works and nurtured some of the brightest dance talents from Malaysia.

Was he vying for the prestigious award?

“Not at all. It came as a great surprise. I never do things because I want a result like this,” he said.

The eminent representatives of music, dance and theatre honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for 2011 each receive a cash price of Rs1 lakh (RM5,894) angavastram (long cotton or silk scarf worn on the shoulder by men) and tamrapatra (engraved copper plate).

The Sangeet Natak Akademi, established by the Government of India on May 31, 1952, is the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama.

It was created as the apex body in the country for the task of preservation and promotion of the performing arts tradition of India.


Kolej Polytech Mara changes its graduation dress code rule

October 8th, 2012
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Until just about 2 weeks ago, Kolej Polytech Mara had a very strict dress code for its graduating students who are to take part in the graduation ceremony.  It was compulsory for the male students to wear songkok and for the female students to wear tudung (headscarf) or else they will not be allowed to take part in the ceremony.

 Female Indian students for example, would mostly wear saree during convocation (well, at least the ones I’ve seen in various IPTs) and it will be strange to see them with tudungs.  It will be also an affront to the students who subscribe to different cultural beliefs, and may as well infringe on their rights.

I remember reading about it on social media and wondered if the college highlighted this when promoting their courses to non-Muslim school leavers students or not.  Students have plenty of options nowadays to further study, and may as well skip your college if they knew about it. Its not like as if you in the top lists of IPTs.

And surprisingly when I checked at the website few days back, the following message was published. The songkok and tudung requirements were not required for non-Muslim students.

Pity that over 50 years of independence and still need to highlight these kinds of restrictions in order to get it removed. Maybe it shows how (in)sensitive or (un)aware you are that there are also other people living in Malaysia.



BBN organised Nambikai Nam Nadu Unity Nite concert to unite Indian groups

September 7th, 2012
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Its a good effort obviously, as we seldom have any concerts with performance reflecting the various groups. But I was curious why amidst the representatives from different communities, a leader from religious organisation was also garlanded. You have leaders from Sikh, Malayalee, Telugu and Ceylonese communities, and then there’s president of Malaysian Hindu Sangam.  Yes, Sikhs are based on religious categorisation as well, but I think nearly every Sikh is a Punjabi (maybe I’m wrong here). Wondering what happened to leader from Tamil community. Maybe can’t agree who to choose since got many splinters? But then, choosing a religious organisation leader is not the solution since you’ll then have to include leaders from other faiths like Bahaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam (since there are Indians following these faiths). I did ask the organiser but never got a reply. Anyway, that’s just me picking on the small points rather than looking at the bigger picture.

Interesting to note that the president of Barisan Bersatu Nambikei, Kalai Vanar was ex-PKR Jerai division head. He stood for Gurun state seat in 2008 elections but lost to BN candidate. He was (still is?) president of Alternative Action Group, another NGO. I remember him during the commotion when protesting at MPSJ regarding some housing project problem compensation (can search youtube).

 Since this group is interested to unite all the Indian community, why not we follow the association its  president and advisor of BBN. I’m sure they will be excellent role models for us. Here’s their twitter/FB accounts (do read all the interesting tweets they make)

BBN Facebook:


Ramesh Rao Krishna Naidu: (and facebook at

 Most recently, BBN staged a protest along with other NGOs at the HQ of a political party over the cases where some teenagers stepped on PM photo and also some others carried a flag. Watch the video here (

So, why wait, do join them and proclaim that you are united!


GREETINGS of vanakkam, vanthanam, namashkaram and namastehrang through the hall as five distinguished personalities welcomed their guests at the “Nambikai Nam Nadu” musical extravaganza at the Malawati Satdium in Shah Alam recently.

It was historic of sorts as the musical night was the largest and first of its kind held to unite the major Indian ethnic groups in the country.

More than 50 well-known local Indian singers and musicians kept the night alive with five hours of non-stop music and songs from movies of the black-and-white era to current hits and various cultural dances that kept the audience spellbound until the show closed at midnight.

Organised by non-governmental body Barisan Bersatu Nambikei (BBN), it attracted about 20,000 people from the Sikh, Tamil, Ceylonese, Malayalee and Telugu community.

“The musical night is held for one reason, to unite the entire Indian community under one roof,” said BBN president Kalai Vanar.

Vanar added the “Unity Nite 2012” themed “In Our Country We Place Our Trust” was not all about a one-off gathering but with the objective to unite all the ethnic groups as Indians and not proclaim themselves as different Indian ethnic group.

Meanwhile BBN special adviser Ramesh Rao in his speech pointed out the importance of tolerance among the different groups in order to move forward and develop as the country progressed.

For those who missed out on the show, it was undoubtedly spectacular as the initiative taken by the organisers was commendable.

With a combination of songs, both old and new, the show encouraged the young to search for their roots with respect to music and art.

At the interlude of the musical night, five special guests — Gerak Sikh president Tan Sri G. Darshan Singh Gill, All-Malaysia Malayalee Association president Tan Sri Ravindran Menon, Persatuan Kebajikan & Kebudayaan Telugu president Datuk Dr Prakash Rao, Malaysian Ceylonese Congress president Datuk Dr NKS Tharmaseelan and Malaysia Hindu Sangam president S. Mohan Shan were each garlanded with the traditional Indian shawls as a mark of respect.


Mass marriage registration ceremony for 59 couples

September 7th, 2012
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This is yet another good effort by DHRRA Malaysia. Imagine if the couples continue to live without legal records, the problems faced by their children will multiply.

The problem of unregistered marriage lies with couples who either don’t think its important or is unaware.  Programs like this, hopefully would create awareness.

And yet, I wonder if in future the concept of marriage will cease to exist. If you have kids, just need to ensure the father and mother columns are filled.

THEY may not have been blushing brides and grooms, but they were certainly a bunch of relieved couples after having their marriages legalised in a mass registration ceremony held at Kuil Sri Siva Muniswara Alayam in Jalan Ipoh recently.

About 59 couples between the ages of 22 and 60, decked in their bestsarees and dhotis, the women wearing flowers in their hair and the men big smiles, registered their marriages at the temple in front of witnesses.

The event was organised by DHRRA Malaysia (Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas), a non-governmental organisation which helps the Indian community living in rural areas on various socialrelated issues.

Perfect union: Couples taking their oaths after the registration.
Perfect union: Couples taking their oaths after the registration.

DHRRA women’s programme director Nanthini Ramalo said that during their outreach programmes conducted in small towns all over the country, they realised that many couples lacked important documents such as marriage certificate.

“The problem lies in the fact that many couples, including the younger generation seem to give more importance to traditional marriage ceremonies and that registering the marriage is not necessary,”Nanthini said.

“They fail to realise that a non-legal marriage will result in their children being deemed as born out of wedlock and spouses who have not registered their marriages will not benefit from Socso and government pensions if one of their partners were to pass on,” she said.

“We explained to them its importance and we’re happy that many turned out today,” Nanthini said, adding that DHRRA will be carrying out more of such programmes in the future.