Kuala Lumpur does Diversity Right
Look closely at the capital of Malaysia and you’ll notice the stark differences between the residents of Kuala Lumpur – there’s a mix of Chinese, Malays and South Indian, with these three races religion plays a big role. Majority of the Chinese are Buddhists, the Malays are Muslim and the South Indians are Hindu. Religion isn’t practiced in the Asia the same way it is in the West, in the East religion is deep-rooted in everyday life. I often think of Hindus and Muslims are religions that don’t mingle together, maybe even at odds with each other. Kuala Lumpur proved me wrong!!!!
The Chinese and Indians get excited about celebrating Ramadan with their Muslim friends. The Chinese and Malay celebrate Diwali with the Indians. The Malay and Indians celebrate Chinese New Year with the Chinese. The three groups retain their traditional customs and religion. The call to prayer is not missed by any of the Muslims I met. Every Chinese I met is heading back to their home town to celebrate the Lunar New Year. A week before I arrived, the South Indian festival of Thaipusam was in full swing at Batu Caves. I’ve seen the three groups people dine together at lunchtime, go to each other’s house for dinner, celebrate weddings and child birth together. Advertisements for products at the Metro stations are in Mandarin, Tamil and Malay – there is no exclusion!
What does this mean for travelers like me? I met a range of people who openly discussed race relations with me. I learned about how the government interferes at times to cause tensions between the races. But the best part for me was the food – regardless of race, everyone in Malaysia likes to eat and they eat often. There is no shortage of delicious Chinese, Indian and Malay food. Certain foods can’t even be identified as Indian or Malay, people aren’t sure where it originated from and both Indian and Malay restaurants serve it.
We can all learn from Malaysians on how to live with with others who don't always have the same point of view as us.