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Tawau International Cultural Festival 2012

Influenced by factors such as geographic forces, the trade winds, and political aspirations, Malaysia is a colorful cultural melting pot- a land where people from different ethnic backgrounds live in harmony.

As a travel destination, it is its people that makes a visit to Malaysia so worthwhile and memorable. There is a genuine warmness among them, be they Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, or any other of its indigenous peoples. Visitors are sincerely and openly welcomed, as well as accepted for who they are. Although the country is now home to some of the world's most impressive infrastructures and architectures, such as the world's tallest twin towers or a high tech airport that is also ranked one of the best in the world of aviation, modernization has in no way lessened the cultural identity or jaded the warm and friendly qualities intrinsic to the Malaysian people.  

Festivals, traditional food and music, art and dance are some of the many things one can experience in Malaysia. A visitor for instance may visit the long houses of the Kenyah tribes in Sarawak and experience the intricacies and beauty of the Datun Julud Dance, a Kenyah folk dance that is performed by women on auspicious occasions. Believed to be orchestrated by a member of the Kenyah tribe long ago as a thanksgiving for the birth of a grandchild, the dance is also now the occasion for suitors to judge the women for their beauty and talent to dance. A musical instrument called a Sape, indigenous to Sarawak, accompanies the Datun Julud dance. The performers are dressed in sheepskin and adorn in blouse and sarong with traditional motifs sewn out of colorful beads and sequins. Held in their hands and graciously swayed while dancing are fans made out of eagle's feathers. Nowadays these fans are mostly made from turkey feathers in support of eagle conservation efforts.  

Thai ponggal, a harvest festival held in January, is celebrated by the Tamil Indians. During the ceremony, visitors will be able to see the performance of the stick dance. Aside from this, Bharata Natyam and Oddisi, two ancient temple dance forms, which are both synonymous to Indian culture, are also practiced here.

Meanwhile, for the Chinese, the morning of every Chinese New Year features the colorful and lively performance of the Lion Dance. Carried out to usher in good luck and prosperity for business and families, the dance involves four to six dancers wearing a lion costume and displaying acrobatic moves to the sound of drums and fireworks. As a reward to the lion, which is also a guardian symbol, a red envelope containing money is presented.  

Along with the major races of Malaysia, there are also some 140 Orang Asli (aboriginal people) in Malaysia, each in their own way maintaining and preserving their cultural heritage.  

This multi-cultural composition is what makes Malaysia truly interesting and inspiring. Each culture respects the other, and furthermore people from other races are welcomed to join in activities such as festivals and celebrations. One exemplary Malaysian tradition quite famous is the open house practice.

On every major religious celebration, either it be Hari Raya Aildilntri, Chinese New Year or Deepavali, the Malaysian people open their homes to other races of people, friends and family so that they may all share in the spirit of celebration.

Malaysia is undeniably a destination for those who want to immerse themselves in many different unique cultures. The country represents a cultural tapestry interwoven with the colorful threads of so many races found within the larger region of Asia, cross-stitched with interesting customs, beliefs and practices. It is not surprising then that Malaysia is also known as truly Asia.



Food is definitely another contributing factor to Malaysia's uniqueness. Although quite diverse due to the many races, religions and culture that call Malaysia home, the combination of flavors and tastes has also led to some culinary ideas being borrowed and adapted, thus creating what some people have labeled fusion cuisine. It is then in no way surprising at all to spot in Malaysia for example a Chinese hawker stall offering fish head curry, when curry itself is more associated with Indian cuisine. To attempt listing all the scintillating culinary delights in Malaysia would definitely be a long and exhaustive process. Not only does each race in Malaysia have their own tasty treats, each Malaysian state also offers its own share of culinary delights and flavors. The variety of food in Malaysia is unquestionably enough to make even the most picky eaters drool with glee.  

Chinese New Year Carnival in Tawau

...fostering the 1Malaysia spirit in our multiracial society...

Festival Kebudayaan Antarabangsa Tawau 2013

Tawau International Cultural Festival
Festival Kebudayaan Antarabangsa Tawau

The annual Tawau International Cultural Festival showcased the beauty and uniqueness of the cultures in Sabah .
Sabah had 35 official ethnic and 217 sub-ethnic groups.

In Tawau alone, there are 29 ethnic groups, each rich with its customs, language, handicraft, music and food.
This is a festival of cultural show of the dances of 29 ethnic groups in Tawau, besides participants from Thailand, Indonesia and China.

This cultural wealth is what the people of Sabah should be proud of.


Moon Cake Festival in Tawau

| 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2010 | 2011 | 2013 | 2015 | 2018 | 2019 |

Moon Cake Festival is a traditional festival celebrated by the Chinese community which attracted attention of all the various races in Malaysia who also joined in the merry making. The festival unite people and strengthen solidarity and peace.

“The festival not only united the people of various races, but also attracted the entry of more tourists into Sabah”
Sabah Deputy Chief Minister
Datuk Dr Jaujan Sambakong
22 September 2018


Culture of the People in Sabah