7 Must See Cultural Festivals in Asia
Asia offers a particular cultural experience in the form of cultural festivals in Asia with basic figures of speech and customs, taking on new life and translations inside every country’s remarkable, memorable and contemporary settings.
From celebrating Chinese New Year in Singapore to Hindu Thaipusam in Malaysia.
We have listed our pick of 7 Must-See cultural celebrations in Asia and roughly organized them chronologically for you.
The 7 Must-See cultural celebrations in Asia are as follows:
- Thaipusam in Malaysia
- Songkran in Thailand
- Dragon Boat Festival in China
- Holi Festival in India
- Taiwan Lantern Festival
- Chinese New Year in Singapore
- Winter Light Festival in Japan
Thaipusam in Malaysia
Attracting tens of thousands of tourists and over a million devotees, Malaysia’s celebration of the Hindu festival Thaipusam is an eight-hour procession and ends at Batu Caves temple just outside the city after 272 steps. Thaipusam is usually celebrated by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai and in communities where there is a significant Tamil presence.
Kavadi is a physical burden through which devotees implore for help from the God Murugan to avert some great misfortune. While the simplest kavadi might entail simply carry a pot of milk on their heads or carrying a semicircular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod on their shoulders, some devotees also engage in the mortification of the flesh where the skin, tongue, or cheeks of devotees are pierced with vel skewers.
Songkran in Thailand
The Songkran Festival celebrates New Year’s Day in Thailand, it also coincides with the New Year of many calendars of countries in South and Southeast Asia. As such, it might seem at times that the whole of Asia has descended on the streets of Thailand when Songkran, the world’s biggest water fight, begins in April.
Perhaps Thailand’s most energetic and well-known cultural festival, Songkran brings reveling crowds to the main streets, rubbing brightly colored chalk or talc on each other and throwing water. Armed with buckets, bowls water guns, and even hoses, the young and old take part in this friendly war of waters, blessing all passers-by in the warmest month of the year.
The festival has roots in Buddhism, with many Thai people still honoring the festival’s origins. Sprinkling water from silver bowls onto the hands of elders and monks as a sign of respect, paying homage to Buddha and taking food and bags of sand to monasteries.
Dragon Boat Festival in China
There are many Dragon Boat Festivals in Asia, but this traditional holiday is also known as a ‘Duanwu Festival’ originates in China.
It occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the traditional lunar calendar, earning it the alternative name of the ‘Double Fifth Festival’. It is also called the ‘Fifth Month Festival’ , ‘Fifth Day Festival’ and ‘Dumpling Festival’ in Malaysia, Singapore, and by the Taiwanese Hokkien.
The Traditional celebrations are to prevent disease or evil and promote health and well-being.
Activities include preparing and eating sticky rice treats wrapped in bamboo leaves which they call zongzi and drinking realgar wine. Celebrators also hang up icons of Zhong Kui along with mugwort and calamus, take long walks and wear perfumed medicine bags. The game of making an egg stand at exactly noon on the day gives the successful player luck for the next year.
The main event is the dragon boat race. The human-powered boat made with teak wood is brightly decorated. With the front end shaped like the head of an open-mouthed dragon and the back like a scaly tail. The boats vary in length, size, and design.
A scared ceremony is performed before the competition to bring the boat to the finishing line and the first team to grab a flag at the end is declared the winner.
Holi Festival in India
Holi is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar and is celebrated in five different categories:
- The Beginning of Spring
- The Beginning of the Hindu New Year
- A Time for Renewing Old Relationships
- Ending Conflicts in Current Relationships, and Love
- The Triumph of Good Over Evil
The Holi Festival of Colors is an ancient Hindu religious festival usually held in March. Celebrated by all Hindus and particularly in India, Nepal, and Pakistan.
Holi has grown in popularity with non-Hindus across South Asia and all over the world wherever there is a large Hindu community.
Celebrations begin with the lighting of bonfires the night before Holi, in a ceremony known as Holika Dahan. This is accompanied by singing, dancing and general merriment to the sound of dholak drums. The next day, Holi, brings laughing and dancing crowds throwing colored powder and water at strangers, friends, and foes in a celebration of joy and goodwill.
After a day of playing with colors, families then take the time to visit each other’s houses, exchanging sweets and Holi delicacies.
Taiwan Lantern Festival
There are lots of different lantern festivals in Asia, but perhaps the most stunning and most renowned is the Taiwan Lantern Festival held in the Pingxi District. The Taiwan Lantern Festival is also observed by the Chinese and Vietnamese.
This cultural festival involves many activities throughout Taiwan.
Tainan Yanshui Fireworks Display at the Wumiao Temple is one of the most important. Originally signifying the warding off of evil and diseases. Over in the mountainous Pingxi District, the sky lanterns were originally released to let others know that the town was safe.
The two events are known together as the “Fireworks in the South, Sky Lanterns in the North”.
Chinese New Year in Singapore
We pick Singapore among the other places in Asia that celebrate Chinese New Year, which throws the best celebrations outside of China with a three-day party.
Chinese New Year is an important traditional Chinese holiday and the longest festival in the Chinese calendar.
Singapore’s three-day party is one of the most anticipated events in the country. Featuring fireworks, dragon parades, colorful decorated streets with intricate lanterns and nightly staged shows at Kreta Ayer Square and a lion dance competition, all of which are punctuated with the multicultural sounds of music from around the world. Enjoy the street parties, the Festive Street Bazaar, the annual Chingay street parade with colorful floats and the Fire Party with cultural performances and a traveling dance competition.
Winter Light Festival in Japan
Last but not the least, we have the Winter Light Festival in Japan.
Kuwana City is home to Nabana No Sato, a botanical theme park featuring beautifully landscaped gardens and stunning giant greenhouses.
In the spring, the park is colorfully decorated in an array of flowers, Cherry trees and blossoms, including row upon row of tulips, viola, stock, and daisies. It’s winter, however, visitors traveling the park can enjoy one of Japan’s most impressive illuminations in the incredible Winter Light Festival.
The sweet fragrance of the flowers mingles with the cold winter air as bundled-up visitors arrive in their thousands to enjoy the famous Tunnel of Lights, and the accompanying elegant light shows and designs that blanket the entirety of the theme park and its waters.
Created with over seven million LED lights using solar panels to reduce the impact on the environment. Japan’s biggest winter illumination includes themed light shows every year.
Hope that you have added one of the above cultural festivals in Asia as compiled by Best Five Star into your itinerary for your next upcoming holiday in Asia.
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