MALAYSIA— When Malaysia Tourism Board promoted the slogan, “Malaysia, Truly Asia” many years ago, the agency wanted to appeal to visiting tourists with the country’s colourful and exciting diversity of the country and its unique multiracial society.
Recently, a Malay girl who led the performance in a traditional Chinese lion Dance in a regional competition won praises from netizens for her mastery of the traditional art, which made Malaysians proud of their multicultural diversity and harmony among the races.
TikTok user Ah Peng shared a 9-minutes video this weekend, featuring a Lion Dance in what seems to be a judged event.
In the performance, the lion with a purple horn had no issue jumping onto a high platform and pounced around the arena as if it was really a living creature.
When the performers finally removed the lion costume, and it was revealed that the performer who controlled the lion head was a Malay girl with her hijab, the audience at the competition gave another round of applause.
Apparently, the Malay girl and her team had won first in the Southeast Asian Lion Dance Championship held in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, two months ago.
In Chinese culture, the lion symbolizes power, wisdom, and superiority. People perform lion dances at Chinese festivals or big occasions to bring good fortune and chase away evil spirits.
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In the comment section, many complimented the dancer’s flexibility and superb balancing skills, and some commented that this is an inspiration for a truly harmonious Malaysia built by multiple races together.
Netizen Berus Kasut commented: “OMG… feel touched to see a hijab girl perfoming lion dance”
Mista G praised the dancer’s good timing in performance, and expressed her love to her country’s culture.
While Aziezah Aziz said he watched the whole clip and proud with “One Malaysia” multiracial unity:
It is believed that the lead lion dancer is 16-year-old Siti Aishah, who was also interviewed by Berita Harian in September last year.
The news article said Siti Aishah and her other four siblings had joined Penang Meihu Culture and Sports Association to practice lion dance art from their coach, coach, 61-year-old Loh Woon Sim.
Their father, 45-year-old Mohd Farulnizam, sent his eldest son Muhammad Firdaus to study at Poi Eng Chinese primary school.
He sent Firdaus to learn lion dance at age seven, “At that time, I only hoped that Firdaus could fill his free time in a beneficial way while also honing his Chinese language skills outside the classroom.”
After his eldest son successfully mastered both Mandarin and the art of lion dance, Farulnizam decided to send all his children to learn lion dance and attend the Chinese school.
Firdaus’s sister, Siti Aishah, first started to practice lion dance at age 5, but soon she became proficient in the skills and took the lion’s head role a few years ago, paired with her partner, 27-year-old Loh Foong Kee(the coach’s daughter).
“The challenge of being in the head position is that you have to efficiently control the lion’s mouth and blink its eyes, you have to focus and interactive with the audience, ” she told a BH reporter.
“I admitted that was a bit nervous before competing. But when people praise and encourage me, I get excited to give my best performance. People will usually be surprised when they see Malay children contesting alongside with them, “Siti Aishah added.