Saturday, June 19, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Free Thinker

Many Malaysians are religious. I am an atheist. I have never understood the concept of gods, angels, devils and such, but I love reading about them. I also enjoy people telling me about the fabric of their beliefs. The stories of the Greek gods, bird omens in Sarawakian cultures.. it's all fascinating stuff.

I visit temples and churches and other places of worship on a regular basis because I find the art and architecture interesting. But I try to avoid going for things like weddings and baptisms because I don't want to pretend to take part.

To me, pretending to worship is mockery; being that sort of rude makes me uncomfortable. However, in Asian culture it is proper to be part of the group and fit in. So when my friends insist I attend some function, and give me an agonised look of entreaty when I hang back from the rituals, I go with the flow and burn incense, chant, or do whatever is required.

I do this because I think it's more important to give my friends face (to not embarrass them) than to stick to my own values. Guess I've become quite Asian after all!

This is a series of notes about living in Malaysia. Love it, hate it, whatever, this Saturday Living In Malaysia series is just one opinion. You can leave brickbats and comments in the comment section.

9 comments:

nasi ayam said...

Hi Ellen,

Try attending Malay wedding. nothing to do with religious there. More, you gonna enjoy nice food and "lauk" there.

The Chair Speaks said...

'Saving face' is so important in Asian culture. Sigh!

Jessie said...

Hi Elle, being a free thinker also means allowing what you believe in shows through actions not through words alone...truly embracing life, people and diversities that sometimes strict fundamental religious teachings may put some limits upon...

Pam said...

I just love reading your blog. I have learned so much about the Eastern culture.

Ginger Jasper said...

Thanks for the interesting insite.. Hugs GJ x

Au and Target said...

Hi Nasi: Been to Muslim weddings in Malaysia and Indonesia, also various Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and (my fave!) a longhouse wedding past Kapir on the Rajang River.

Neri said...

:) Like this very much.

mizzyN said...

to each her own style :)

BeadedTail said...

I enjoy learning about you and your culture! It's good you don't pretend just for the sake of fitting in all the time.