Celebrating Chinese New Year in true Malaysian fashion

GEORGE TOWN: The Chinese New Year open house at the Penang Harmony Centre here was celebrated in true multicultural Malaysian spirit.

Hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds thronged the open house organised by the Penang Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (Macma), Penang Harmony Corporation, Penang Gabungan Dakwah Malaysia and the state Islamic Religious Affairs Department.

Factory worker Nur Hidayah Isa, 28, said the event was a good platform to strengthen the relationship between the various races in a multiethnic Malaysian society.

“It is a good way to maintain the Chinese New Year tradition of inviting others to celebrate the festival as one,” she said.

Nur Hidayah, from Seberang Jaya, said she had attended many Chinese New Year open houses and was glad she made it to the Penang Harmony Centre’s open house.

She came with her husband, Chinese Muslim convert Tan Soon Chia, 29, and their one-year-old daughter Hannah Tan Chia Yen.

Civil servant Abdullah Rahman, 32, from Butterworth, said he was happy to see many people of different religions mingling and enjoying the open house together.

“It is a joy to see Malaysians of different backgrounds not only living together as citizens but also embracing each other’s cultures,” he said.

Abdullah, an ethnic Indian, converted to Islam from Christianity two years ago.

J. Laraine, a Baha’i adherent from Gelugor, said such an event like the Chinese New Year open house here should be expanded to other festivals, too.

“This way, people will feel welcome and can learn about other religions and cultures,” he said.

The 48-year-old businessman said the open house was also an opportunity for him to promote Penang’s unique diversity to his friends from the Baha’i community.

Chinese Muslim convert Nur Qiyasah Tan Abdullah, 29, attended the open house for the first time with her husband Ng Yang Deng, 27, her mother Nardiah Ang Abdullah, 60, and her siblings.

The executive, who lives in Teluk Kumbar, said she was happy to celebrate Chinese New Year with other communities.

“Open houses foster unity among Penangites of different races and religions.”

Chinese national Gu Duan Nan, 31, was impressed with the way the open house was organised.

“Learning about Malaysian religions allows us to embrace unity and to seek the truth; it is a good opportunity for me to know more about Islam,” she said.

Gu, who came with her husband Jervin Khoo, a Malaysian, also tried to wear the hijab as she was curious about the experience of donning the headscarf.

Present during the event were social development, welfare and non-Islamic religious affairs committee chairman Lim Siew Khim and Penang Macma chairman Ben Ooi.

Lim described the event as a good platform to establish a harmonious and diverse society.

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