You have heard about it, you have read about it, and it takes but a few minutes on any street in Kuala Lumpur to confirm it – Malaysia has a vibrant population mix! Hailing from many different ethnic and religious backgrounds, these amicable folk are united as Malaysians, but still retain the cultural identity that makes every one of them unique. It is this harmonious setting that sprinkles the Malaysian calendar with numerous traditional celebrations, affairs that are windows into the customs and ways of each intriguing culture. In a happy coincidence, several of these occasions coincide on 14 April, making for a very meaningful Friday! Vaisakhi A significant day for the Sikhs, Vaisakhi – alternatively spelled Baisakhi, Vaishakhi, or Vasakhi – marks the day the Khalsa Panth was formed over 300 years ago in 1699 by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh Guru; an event that signified the birth of the Sikh identity. Vaisakhi also denotes the Sikh New Year and the harvest festival, the latter of which is celebrated to a grand scale in the Sikh homeland of Punjab, India. Sikhs in Malaysia converge at their local gurdwara (Sikh temple) to participate in religious ceremony and colourful merriment, while partaking in traditional fare and delicacies! All are invited to experience the festivities, but do take note that it is a sign of respect to cover your head with a scarf (a large handkerchief would do) once within gurdwara grounds. Puthandu and Vishu Tamils and Malayalees will also celebrate their New Year, called Puthandu and Vishu respectively. It is common to hear Tamils greeting each other by exclaiming “Puthandu valttukkal!” which translates to “Happy New Year!”. For both these groups, the celebration is mainly spent with family members at home, although temple visits occur as well. The house is cleaned, auspicious items such as fruits and flowers are readied and everyone is decked out in new clothes. Amid all their fun and laughter, younger members of the family obtain the blessings of the elders. The celebration isn’t complete without a special feast! Puthandu meals are usually vegetarian, while the Vishu calls for Sadya, a mix of sweet, sour, salty and bitter elements. Songkran Songkran is perhaps the most well-known of Thai festivals, and entails a super-fun, super-wet time! It is the Thai New Year, and is celebrated by many in Malaysia. The origin of the word Songkran can be traced to the Sanskrit word saṃkranti, which means ‘astrological passage’ or simply ‘change’. The festival is also a time of homecoming for family members who have moved away. The Songkran day starts early, with visits to Buddhist temples and food offerings to Buddhist monks. A ritual that involves pouring water on Buddha statues is also performed, symbolising purification and the cleansing of sins and misfortune. Water is a consistent Songkran element, used to pay respect to elders and of course – the epic water fights on the streets where everyone comes away soaked to their bones! Good Friday 14 April 2017 also happens to be the Friday before Easter Sunday, and therefore the day Christians solemnly commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Sitting in the Christian Holy Week, Good Friday is also known as Holy Friday, Great Friday or Black Friday. The day is spent with church visits, along with prayers and fasting to observe the pensive occasion.