Forms of Faith

Malaysia is celebrated for its cultural and religious diversity, and the figures speak for themselves.

by / Published: 8 Nov 2012

Forms of Faith

Like any other country, you are bound to find some people who are more religious and conservative than others. For example, you may encounter some Muslims who wear the tudung (headscarf), dress modestly, pray five times a day, fast during Ramadhan and adhere to the principles of Islamic banking while other Muslims only observe some of the customs. So tread carefully around the cultures here and take care not to offend.

But while the majority of the population is Muslim, Malaysia is relatively liberal compared to the common perception of what a Muslim majority country would be like, making Malaysia an easy place for expatriates to settle in. But while, Malaysia is more liberal than a lot of other Muslim countries, it is still an Asian society so public displays of affections are generally frowned upon, particularly by the more conservative Malaysians, regardless of ethnicity or religion. In Kelantan, PAS controlled state; gender segregation is practiced for a number of activities, such as going to the cinema and shopping in the supermarket.

Throughout the year, Malaysia will celebrate numerous festivals, a product of the multicultural society of Malaysia. Federal holidays means the whole of Malaysia gets a day off from work or school while state holidays mean only citizens of that particular state will get the day off.

Islam is not just a religion here in Malaysia; it also plays an important cultural role, having many important celebrations.

Hari Raya Puasa (also known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri), the celebration that culminates the end of the Ramadan fasting month is the most celebrated Muslim holiday in Malaysia. Hari Raya Puasa is also the Malay equivalent of Eid ul-Fitr, Other Muslim celebrations include Hari Raya Haji (or Hari Raya Aidiladha), Awal Muharram (the Islamic New Year) and the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday.

For the Chinese community in Malaysia, the Chinese New Year is a major event. Many customs and traditions are observed by those celebrating. The celebrations last for 15 days and are a good time to visit KL if you are not living here, but a bad time to travel from KL to Johor or Penang due the number of people travelling home to spend the Chinese New Year with their family. Other Chinese festivals are the Qing Ming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Day), the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival. Many Buddhist Chinese also celebrate Wesak day.

While the majority of Indians in Malaysia are Hindu, a number of them are Muslim. The major Hindu festival is Deepavali (or sometimes known as Diwali), also known as “the festival of lights”. Thaipusam is the other major celebration by the Hindu community and is a bizarre sight for those new to Malaysia due to some of the rituals, some involving going into a trance-like state and large piercings of the body. During this festival, pilgrims from all over the world flock to Batu Caves in Selangor, but there are also major celebrations in Penang as well. Sikhs also have their own celebrations, most notably the Vaisaki, the Sikh New Year.

Christian celebrations are also recognized and celebrated with Christmas being a federal holiday and Good Friday being a state holiday for Sabah and Sarawak. The festivals of various indigenous groups, such as the Iban, are also celebrated in Malaysia. One of Malaysia’s biggest selling points is the unique way of life where different ethnic groups can celebrate each other’s festivals and celebrations without any hang ups.

The slogan Kongsi Raya was coined as a result of Chinese New Year and Hari Raya Puasa coinciding-Gong Xi Fa Cai a popular Chinese New Year greeting, and Selamat Hari Raya, likewise, is the Hari Raya Puasa greeting. Kongsi Raya could also mean “celebrating together” in the Malay language. For years when Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali coincide, the slogan Deeparaya is used.

Places of Worship
Being an expatriate abroad does not limit one from performing acts of religious praise, honor or devotion; just like in every other aspect of Malaysian life, you have more choices than you could possibly imagine, giving you the perfect opportunity to find a church, mosque or temple that you feel happy with. Since Malaysia is such a diverse nation, there are many places of worship available across the country.


Kuala Lumpur

Baptist Church
70 Changkat Bukit Bintang, KL
Tel: 03–2141 9154

Calvary Church
2 Damansara Endah,
Damansara Heights, KL
Tel: 03–7728 6000

Glad Tidings
PJ6 Jalan Bersatu 13/4
Section 13, PJ
Tel: 03–7958 2777

Petites Soeurs des Pauvres
Saint François Xavier’s Home for the Elderly

3 Jalan 5/96 Off Jalan Sekuci,
Taman Sri Bahtera,
5th Mile Jalan Cheras, KL
Tel: 03–9131 1464

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
29/31 Jalan Raja Chulan, KL
Tel: 03–2311 223

St. John’s Catholic Church
5 Jalan Bukit Nanas, KL
Tel: 03–2026 2813

Penang Trinity Methodist Church
16 Jalan Masjid Negeri
Tel: 04–8287 445


Church of Christ
46 Lintasan Perajurit 6
Garden East, Ipoh
Tel: 05–5278 518


Worldwide Church of God
5440B Jalan Kenari 18
Bandar Putra, Kulai
Tel: 07-2388 482


Skyline SI B
Level 3 Magellan Sutera Hotel
Sutera Harbour Resort
Kota Kinabalu
Tel: 088–247 804


Trinity Methodist Church
57 Ellis Road, Kuching
Tel: 082–417 015


Masjid Permata
(Diamond Mosque)

Petronas Twin Towers
KL CC Park Area, KL

Masjid Negara
(National Mosque)

Jalan Perdana, KL
Tel: 03–2693 7784

Masjid Jamek
(Jamek Mosque)

Jalan Masjid Jamek, KL
Tel: 03–2274 6063


Sri Maha Mariamman Temple
163 Jalan Tun H.S. Lee, KL
Tel: 03–2078 3467

Sri Ganesan Temple
9 Jalan Pudu Lama, KL
Tel: 03–2078 9825

Thean Hou Temple
65, Persiaran Endah
Off Jalan Syed Putra, KL
Tel: 03–2274 7088

Chetawan Buddhist Temple
24 Jalan Pantai,
Jalan Gasing, PJ
Tel: 03-7955 2443