Malaysia is a land that is diverse not only in its geographical variety but especially in its people. The tagline for Malaysia is ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ which catches the country’s unique diversity and categorises the charm of Malaysia. Due to many years of immigration, colonisation, and inter-marriages, this Golden Chersonese is now home to ethnic Malays, Chinese, South Asians, Thais, Eurasians of Portuguese, Dutch, and English descent, together with the indigenous people like the Orang Asli, Iban, and Kadazan people. In a world that is torn apart by sectarian violence, Malaysia is a model country of religious and cultural tolerance.
Malaysia is a secular state with Islam as its official religion, with 61% of the population being adherents. Buddhist make up close to 20% of the population, whilst Christianity, Hinduism, and Taoism are the other minor religions in Malaysia with 9.2%, 6.3%, and 3.4% respectively. The places of worship for the following religions are beautifully crafted, lovingly designed, and are as much of the Malaysian skyline as the KL Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers. Here are a few that will catch your eye, and heart.
1. Crystal Mosque
Located in the state of Terengganu, this mosque is an engineering wonder as it was built with steel, glass, and crystal, hence its name. Whether viewed at day or night, it is a sight to behold as it sparkles and shines along the beautiful Terengganu River.
2. The Kek Lok Si Temple
A unique Buddhist temple with Burmese, Thai, and Chinese architectural features, this temple is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhist across Southeast Asia. Built between 1890 and 1930, its main highlight is its seven-story Pagoda which houses numerous statues of Buddha and a 36.57 metre high statue of Kuan Yin.
3. Christ Church
The oldest Protestant church in Malaysia, it was built by the Dutch administration and completed in 1753. The church has the classic Dutch colonial design, similar to the Stadhuys building nearby. Another striking feature is its red exterior and its floors and walls are adorned with tombstones and memorial plaques with Portuguese, Armenian, Dutch, and English inscriptions.
4. Batu Caves
Home to the tallest lord Murugan statue in the world, Batu Caves is an important Hindu religious site and part of the ten holy shrines in the world. The cave is located in a limestone hill and to get to the main entrance, you would need to climb up 272 steps. The lord Murugan statue, clad in an all gold finish, stands at 42.7 metres and is a sight to behold. It was completed in 2006 and cost RM2.5 million (US$625,000).
Men have always sought to know God more and to be in His presence, these monuments are not just structures but a representation of honour, belief, and faith. Malaysia has been blessed with stability, its lovely people, and its diversity. One of the tenets of the Rukun Negara (National Principles) is Belief in God and it was this strength that have carried Malaysians through some difficult situations. May this strength continue to blossom not only in these places of worship amidst its beautiful structures but reside in each one of us as we let the little light in each of us shine.