The Matrix of the Modern Malay Culture

coexist pacifique 7As I said yesterday, Malaysia is predominantly an islam country. Though, you will find in the peninsula streets many others communities that brought their culture with them and make them live.

coexist pacifique 1Indians keep rubbing shoulders as they do in the sub-continent.

coexist pacifique 8The Chinese community is free to follow their own celebration dates.

coexist pacifique 6 coexist pacifique 9Even the cosmopolite backpacker culture has its own temples, including reagge music and Bacardi Breezers…

coexist pacifique 2 Even though communities do not seem to mix very much, all of them have embraced the Western World codes…coexist pacifique 4And do not seem afraid to mix cultures. Hereunder, street art features a veiled woman without any complex.coexist pacifique 5

A few days ago, I was in Kota Bharu, North Malaysia, here the Peaceful Coexistence is especially striking.

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Capture d’écran 2014-04-19 à 10.10.43On one side of the road, the “Imam Collection” fashion shop.
On the other side of the road, Levi’s and McDonalds.

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Catholicism in the Philippines

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As I said, catholicism was introduced in the Philippines by Magellan, before he got killed by Lapu Lapu. This cross above would contain vestiges from a cross he hammered on a Cebu beach in 1521… After his death, Spanish kept sending boats and missionaries.

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In the Visayas, El Santo Nino – meaning Jesus – is celebrated every third Sunday of January. Called “Sinulog”, the celebration lasts for nine days, culminating on the final day with the Sinulog Grand Parade.

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This was last week on the cathedral’s square. People were praying, raising hands, crying form emotion, buying El Nino plastic dolls and walking them through the church alleys…

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As always, Mickey, Hello Kitty, Angry Birds and Dora are making nice balloons to sell, but El Nino balloons have much more success !!!

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Last Sunday, I went to church and it was interesting to see how different it is from one we have in France. In France, the priest would explain the texts, tell stories about the saints, the bible, etc. Here, the priest was focussing on how religion can change your life on a daily basis and what everyone should do every day to cope with the catholic practices.

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A concrete preach which fits the format of the service.
Indeed, this is not a “real” church but a conference room, with a stage and PowerPoint slide shows !!! apotheosis of the presentation : the final song do not look like a choral but rather like a rock show !!!

A couple of days later, I was queuing at the supermarket, when suddenly the cashier froze: at 3PM every day, the supermarket radio releases a five minutes prayer, and everyone stops what they were doing… Unbelievable, it looks like a flash mob. Actually, they must have invented the flash mob !!!!!

Benares religious ceremonies, explanations

Ceremonie 1

Benares – In West Bengal and nowadays called Varanasi – is to Hindus what Mecca is to muslims, Jerusalem to Jews: THE holly city. The city is often referred to as “the city of temples”, “the holy city of India”, “the religious capital of India”, “the city of lights”, “the city of learning”, and “the oldest living city on earth.”

According to archeologists, it was founded 12 centuries before Christ. According to the legend, it was founded by Shiva. for some reason (too long to explain), the Ganga river was encapsulated in Shiva’s hair, which makes the river so sacred.

Hommes en orange

Over 50,000 Brahmins live in Varanasi, providing religious services to the masses.

Ceremonie 2

Every evening, an offering ceremony takes place on the Gaths (the river quays), attracting 3 million Indians every year for all around the world and 200,000 foreign tourists, mainly from Japan and Sri Lanka.
Westerners are not so numerous, I guess there was more of them in the 1970′, searching for spirituality in Benares, Katmandu and pot…

Hommes en jaune
All along its course, Hindus bathe in the Ganga waters, paying homage to their ancestors and to their gods by cupping the water in their hands, lifting it and letting it fall back into the river; they offer flowers and rose petals and float shallow clay dishes filled with oil and lit with wicks. On the journey back home from the Ganges, they carry small quantities of river water with them for use in rituals (Ganga jal, literally water of the Ganga). When a loved one dies, Hindus bring the ashes of the deceased person to the Ganges River.
Femmes jaunes et rouges

However, the best is to die in Varanasi, as it ensures release of a person’s soul from the infernal – and otherwise never-ending – cycle of its transmigrations. Thus, many Hindus arrive here for dying. And wait for it to happen.

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Then, you get cremated, and your ashes thrown in the river.
This ceremonial takes place on two different gaths, one for women, one for men.
Upstream, tons of wood are sold to the families. The richest buy sandalwood (bois de santal). Sometimes, there is not enough wood to turn the body into ashes completely, so it is not rare to find women’ hips and men’ sternums in the river…

D68. Nov 7 . Delhi sightseeing

The Delhi’ monuments I went through yesterday are really a 3D representation of India’s historical milestones, summarizing an ebb & tide of influences over time – muslim Mughals (Turkey), Persians (Iran), British…

Qutb Minar
Erected by muslims in 1199 to mark victory over the local – and accessorily a minaret.
72 meters of red sandstone (grès) engraved with Coran suras (sourates).

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You cannot enter the minaret anymore: in 1981 a crowd panic resulted in 40 casualties! The monument has been closed ever since.

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Such shinny and colorful shinny everywhere could almost make me forget that women do not exist as such here.

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Would you like any refrigerated water before leaving the place ?

Humayun’s Tomb
Erected in 1595  by the Mughal emperor’ widow. It adopts the style of a persian’ grave.

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It was probably an inspiration for the architects of the Taj Mahal.

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Indian tourists come here with their families or classmates.
And I’ve counted 3 types of westerners:
. English people in their twenties, with Indian origins, coming here with a bunch of friends;
. French couples in their fifties;
. American groups in their sixties.
same typology in every monument!

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Old Delhi Red Fort
Constructed in the 17th century and the seat of Mughal power, it became a symbol of the rebellion versus the British. With the end of the Mughal reign (1858), the British gave official sanctions to remove and sell valuables from the palace at the Red Fort.They put down the harem apartments and instead of them erected a line of barracks. After Indian Independence, the site experienced few changes in terms of addition or alteration to the structures. The Red Fort continued to be used as a cantonment even after Independence.

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The site isn’t only touristic. As the entrance fees only cost 10 Rupees to locals (250 for foreigners), they often come here for walks or shop, as thee Fort also shelters a bazar.
It looks like nothing has changed since the independence, and the picture below reminds me very much of an Alfred Hitchkock movie – I couldn’t say which one – here the hero would be pursued by bad guys in a gloomy bazar : )

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The Parliament
In the parliament’ street, very British in its style, a bunch of Ambassadors.
Those cars were primarily manufactured by Morris Motors Limited in Oxford, UK, in the 1950′. Despite its British origins, the Ambassador is considered as an Indian car and is fondly called “The king of Indian roads”. All taxis were Ambassadors but 2011 anti-pollution norms banned them from 11 cities, including Kolkata were the car is produced, and the sales are plummeting…

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D53 . Oct 23 . Taipei’ cornerstones

I have one day to see everything people talk about when mentioning Taipei: the Chiang Kai Shek memorial, the Sun Yat Sen memorial, the Confucius, temple, the 101 Tower, the night market, the Grand Hotel… The metro is neat, easy to navigate, it’s gonna be a cool day.

A

First step: the Chiang Kai Shek memorial. Chiang Kai Tchek is the guy who fighted Mao and finally had to exile in Taiwan with his troups. Not a communist, but not really a democrat neither, he led Taiwan from 1949 to 1975, then replaced by his son.

C

The place is stoning. I wasn’t expecting something so beautiful and monumental. But in a nice way. Often, “monumental” illustrates cold communist agoras. Whereas, that case, the agora is quite elegant.

D E F

Two soldiers who don’t blink an eye guard a giant statue of Chiang. Impressive.

G

Though, it’s hot in there and I can see sweat pearl on his chick. Still, not a move…

H

Second stop: the highest tower of the city, from where I find out that I’m surrounded with thick smog…

I

 

J

Above  a picture of the tower from the Sun Yat Sen memorial, where students are preparing some celebrations (below) – Sun Yat Sen is the guy who, in the 1910’, fought for China’s independence and led the first (and unique) Chinese democratic government.

K

 

 

At 5PM, the sun is already down. A good news: there’s gonna be no tourist at the Confucius temple. And it’s magic. The lights, the silence, just one monk exercising on the guitar… A great moment.

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I’ll end my day at the Grand Hotel. The hotel looks like a huge pagoda; Awesome actually.

O

My dad was at that very place 22 years ago. Funny, my nowadays my brother looks exactly like him on that picture.

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D40 . Oct 10 . Gyeongju, open air museum city

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Today, to escape our slow biped condition, we have decided to rent bicycles. A good move because Gyeongju is full of wonderful parks and temples all over the city.

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For centuries, the city had been capital city of Korea. Nowadays, it is a quite town, where inhabitants can sit on a bench and look at tumuli for hours (kings’ tombs).

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Once they are done with meditation, they can walk through covered bridges (No, this is definitely not Madison county), or visit one of the many art & history museums of the city… Nature & culture…

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In the evening, we decided to stop by the lake. Hidden speakers were broadcasting a quiet local music, a light rain was refreshing the air, and the lightening system was stoning, all together creating a unique atmosphere…

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(Nope, I didn’t Photoshop my pictures)

 

D18 – Sept 18 – Chamanism

The sky is grey, it is very windy, even raining a bit. Not sure I’m gonna have a shower. No, I’m not gonna have a shower. But after viewing that short movie, I’m sure you will share my decision…

Anyway, after breakfast we decide to have a walk to the Cape, and we will not regret it, it is absolutely gorgeous. The wind even makes it more spectacular.

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Buddhists from religion, The Buriates include a part of animism to their practice.

Natural elements have a spirit. Mountains, trees, are venerable. That’s the reason why you can find ribbons tied on trees, like on the pictures below, as symbolic gifts to their spirit. Their spiritual guide is a shaman, who use animal skins and special dances to get in trance…

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In the afternoon, we were finally able to book an “excursion”, a four hours jeep tour in the taiga. Awesome.