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  • Writer's pictureHuang Xinrui

Young Malaysian Chinese Spread Chinese Culture through Reminiscence

Writer: Huang Xinrui

Editor: Xu Bingxuan

(Reminiscence's promotional poster. Source: Official Instagram account: kelabtionghua_kpzukm)

Do you want to travel back to the era of the Republic of China (1912-1949) in Malaysia?

Chinese Students’ Association in Kolej Pendeta Za’ba (KPZ), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) did it! On June 7, the Eleventh Annual Cultural Night Reminiscence was successfully organized by them. An intangible cultural heritage of the diabolo performance, the playing of traditional Chinese instruments and hands-on experience with traditional Chinese skills. All of them were bringing the audience a feeling of traveling to the past.

“In order to enhance the understanding of traditional Chinese culture among students at UKM and to promote cultural communication among the three races in Malaysia, the KPZ Chinese Students’ Association brought back the Annual Culture Night, which had been canceled for three years due to the epidemic,” said Chua Wei Siong (21), the chairman of this activity.

“Attractive, the performance was great!”

(UPM Diabolo's performance. Photo by: Peng Siwei)

Performers from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Efficient Music Enterprise entertained the audience with diabolo, a dance combining modern and ancient styles and traditional Chinese instruments.

UPM Diabolo's performance introduced many audiences to this traditional art for the first time. Diabolo performances are full of speed, dexterity and coordination. The skills and hands of the artists make Diabolo present amazingly dynamic and complex tricks. They may demonstrate a variety of techniques such as throwing and catching, balancing and manipulating multiple Diabolo at the same time. As the performance progresses, music and lighting effects often echo the movements and rhythms of the artists, adding to the visual and aural enjoyment.

“I've only seen Diabolo on TV before, not in real life. UPM Diabolo's performance is really interesting. I would like to learn it if I have the chance in the future,” said Ong Zheng Yi (21), a psychology student.

“Interesting, the booths were so interactive!”

(Experience making incense pouches. Photo by: Chua Wei Siong)

The event also set up four experience booths of traditional skills. There are booths for paper-cutting and incense bag-making experiences. Each stall was guided by the person in charge, which gave students a good experience.

Among them, the incense bag making stall was the most popular one. The organizers set up a box for participants to randomly draw incense pouches. Each of which had a different word on it, which also represented different meanings. In Chinese culture, incense pouches are regarded as an item for praying for good fortune. They are often used to pray for good luck, health, happiness and peace. The spices or herbs filled in the joss sticks are believed to have the effect of warding off evil spirits and evil spirits, and protect people from malicious and undesirable energies.

In addition to incense bag making, paper cutting is also very popular.

Sicayoda Wirayuda (18), an Indonesian psychology student said, “It was obvious that each booth was prepared with great effort. I thought that paper cutting was a particularly complex art. At first, I didn't know how to cut out such nice shapes. But the person in charge of the stall was very patient in teaching me. Finally, with her help, I succeeded in making my first paper cut.”

“Impressive, the cultural background of the hosts is diversity!”

(The two hosts are rehearsing. Photo by: Peng Siwei)

The hosts of this event come from different cultural backgrounds. The four hosts are Chinese, Malaysian Chinese and Malay.

This was the first time that the KPZ Chinese Students' Association has invited Malays and Chinese to host an event together with Malaysian Chinese.

“I was shocked when I saw a foreign host and a Malay host standing on stage. The combination was amazing. I also realized that Reminiscence really did what it was meant to do to promote cultural exchange," said Sim June Yen (21), a political science student.

“We hope to give the audience a refreshing feeling through this setting. We are also grateful for the participation of our Chinese friends and our Malay compatriots, thanks to whom our event can be so successful,” said Chua.

Not only that, but the event also brought a new cultural experience to the Malay host.

“Malaysia is a country made up of three major races and several ethnic groups, and every ethnic culture should be respected and promoted,” said Nadiah Foong (19), the informal master of ceremony (informal MC).

She added, “My mother is Malay and my father is Malaysian Chinese. So, I was brought up with two cultures. But unfortunately, I have very little knowledge of traditional Chinese culture. This event gave me a good view of the traditional Chinese culture. It made up for my regret to some extent.”

Jia Boxiang (21), the formal MC of this event said, “As a Chinese, I am very happy to be able to participate in this event as an MC. It feels great to tell our Malaysian Chinese friends about traditional Chinese culture. I was also shocked to see how well the Chinese traditional culture could be passed on among the Malaysian Chinese.”

This activity has largely promoted friendship between Malaysian Chinese youth and Chinese youth. It has built a good platform for the communication and dissemination of Chinese culture.

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