Culture and festivals in Kuala Lumpur integrate seamlessly into colorful celebrations. There are many festivals celebrated in Kuala Lumpur and planning your vacation around one may prove to be worthy of your time and money. Some of the most popular festivals in Kuala Lumpur are as follows.
- Thaipusam. Celebrated in January every year, the Thaipusam attracts many spectators local and foreign for devotees sporting metal hooks and bars through their bodies. The festival lasts for three days with the ceremonies and rituals beginning at the Sri Mahamariaman Temple at Jalan Tun H.S. Lee in Chinatown and ending at Batu Caves. The best place to witness the festival is at Batu Caves during the conclusion of the feast.
- Pongal. The date of the Pongal festival follows the Hindu Thai calendar, which starts in the middle of January. The festival is celebrated during the first four days of the Hindu Thai calendar, starting on the 14th or 15th of January. Around this time, you’ll see people cleaning their houses and painting and decorating them with “Kolams”, which is rice flour made into floor patterns. The word “Pongal” in Malay means “boiling over” and the Malays boil milk, rice and other local ingredients are boiled in a pot at the same place where prayers are said to thank the Lord for bountiful harvests.
- Deepavali. Also called as the “Festival of Lights“, Deepavali is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil. It is believed that it was on this day when the Hindus’ Lord Krishna has overcome the evil powers of Nargansuran. Every year in October, Hindus celebrate Deepavali by having an oil bath very early in the morning of the festival and then going to the temple after. They will also have their houses lit by oil lamps symbolizing the victory of light over darkness.
- Hari Raya Puasa. One of the most important festivals for Muslims, the Hari Raya Puasa marks the end of the Ramadan. It is celebrated every August and the “Hari Raya” or “Day of Celebration” begins in the morning. Muslims will be wearing new clothes and will be visiting temples early in the day. They will also visit the tombs of their loved ones and the young ones will ask forgiveness for their sins from the elderly.
- Ghost Festival. Also celebrated in August, the Ghost Festival signifies the opening of the “gates of hell” and the returning of the spirits of the dead. To pacify the spirits of their relatives, prayers and rituals are done, which is believed to bring good luck as well. If you come to visit around the time of this festival, you’ll see food offerings like rice, chicken, fruits and vegetables littering every street and road corners of the country. The Malays also burn replica money that they call “hell money” to prevent the spirits from entering their houses and bringing troubles in their lives.
- Mooncake Festival. The mooncake festival best characterizes the culture and festivals in Kuala Lumpur. During the festival, families gather to pray and children are encouraged to participate by parading in the streets while bearing lanterns. Chinese families also give mooncakes to friends and elderly relatives weeks before the actual festival and on the day of the festival, they offer mooncakes, roasted pork, fried chicken, fruits and Chinese tea to their dead ancestors by their altar. The celebration usually falls in September, the 15th day of the eight month of the Chinese calendar.