Critical Study of theories surrounding the historic arrival of a popular Shiite festival in contemporary Sunni Malaysia

Mozaffari-Falarti, Maziar (2004) Critical Study of theories surrounding the historic arrival of a popular Shiite festival in contemporary Sunni Malaysia. In Bailey, C., Cabrera, D., & Buys, L. (Eds.) Social Change in the 21st Century, Centre for Social Change Research, December, Brisbane, Australia.



In contemporary Malaysia (especially Penang) boria refers to a choral street performance performed annually by a number of troupes. The troupes are composed predominantly of Sunni Malays and may represent a street, kampong or districts. The objective of boria performed by these troupes is merely for fun and often includes an annual singing competition. The size, themes and movements of each troupe may vary from year to year. But,what is common to most troupes is that boria is generally performed during the first ten days of Islamic lunar month of Muharram.

According to most scholars, however, chiefly Indian Shiite migrants performed historic nineteenth century boria in Malaysia and that the performances were not competitive but religious. Thus these scholars continue that it was these Shiite Indians who first introduced the festival with its religious zeal and pathos into Malaysia and that the local Sunni Malays simply adopted the religious Muharram festival as their own, transforming it into a non-religious practice(boria).

There is no doubt that the term boria is simply a follow on of the name given to the religious Muharram festival. Yet the Malay adaptation of the term boria in the late nineteenth century does not necessarily mean that it represented a transformation from a religious into a non-religious festival as argued by virtually all scholars. Being part of a larger project I will limit this study to further analyse the various theories surrounding the historic Indian Shiite origin of boria in contemporary Malaysia.

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ID Code: 626
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Malaysia, Muharram festival, Boria, Malay Customs and Manner, Shiite, Islam, Sunni, Penang
ISBN: 1741070813
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES (220000) > RELIGION AND RELIGIOUS TRADITIONS (220400) > Islamic Studies (220403)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LANGUAGES COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE (200000) > CULTURAL STUDIES (200200)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY (210000) > HISTORICAL STUDIES (210300) > Asian History (210302)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 Maziar Mozaffari-Falarti
Deposited On: 21 Dec 2004 00:00
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2012 09:42

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