Colourful Chinese New Year - in Kuala Lumpur

This weekend -6-7 Februari 2016 Chinese people (1/5 of the world population) celebrate the Chinese New Year. They do so with cleaning and decorating their houses in the period before and fireworks and lion dancings during these days.  The people who speak Mandarin  wish each other Gong Xi Fa Cha for a prosperous New Year - photo by Silk & Paper.

In Malaysia approxemately 30% of the population has Chinese ancestors. Like for all other (religious) festivals a good reason to give all the inhabitants some days off to be able to indulge oneself in the celebrations (and eating special meals like the shared salad).

In Kuala Lumpur all the big shopping malls are decorated festively with red lanterns, blossom treas and dragons. The schools and offices and a lot of shops are closed during four days (Saturday-Tuesday). People  give each other (and also shopkeepers to their clients) small gifts like mandarins (the fruit)and small colourful envelopes with some money as a token of prosperity.

In the Chinese temples are these days numerous ceremonies where believers come to worship their gods with candlesticks, fruit and eggs. The temples are beautifully decorated and very crowded these days. This is the temple Thean Hou - the biggest temple of Kuala Lumpur, overlooking the city from a hill near Brickfields at night -photo by Silk & Paper  -

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This year  will be the year of the monkey (till 27 January 2017). The monkey is the ninth sign in the Chines zodiac and seen as a clever animal. Accidentially the word for monkey in Chinese is also Hou (like in the name of the biggest Chinese temple of Kuala Lumpur) -

All the photo's in this weblog are available for orders  in the Shop Cards of Silk & Paper  as a paper photo card and in the Shop Services of Silk & Paper as a digital download image.

Thaipusam - yearly Hindu Festival - in Kuala Lumpur

In the weekend of 22-24 of January the Hindus celebrate worldwide the Thaipusam festival. Dressed in yellow and the women/girls with delicate jasmine flowers in their hair they start with the official preparations on Friday evening in the Hindu Temple Sri Mahamariamman in the main Prayer Hall which contains the shrine (garbagraham) to The God Sri Maha Mariammman.


'This Temple resembles the form of a human body lying on its back with the head positioned towards the west and the feet towards the east. The temple's 5-tiered gopuram corresponds to the feet of the body. It is the threshold between the material and spiritual world. At the rear is the garbagraham or sanctum sanctorum, which corresponds to the head. It is a freestanding structure with its own roof and walls and has one entrance that faces east. This is the inner sanctum where the chief deity Sri Maha Mariamman is located. The priest stands in front of the garbagraham when performing the puja (prayers). Within the temple is a main prayer hall with richly decorated ceilings. The location of three shrines in the main temple is marked by an ornately embellished onion dome which can be seen from outside. There are also four smaller shrines located peripherally around the main temple building'. (source quote: Wikepedia)
'A silver chariot is housed within the premises. This chariot is a prominent feature during the annual Thaipusam festival. It is used during this occasion for transporting the statuettes of Lord Muruga and his consorts (Valli and Teivayanni) through the city streets to Batu Caves. It made its debut in 1893 and was built using 350 kilograms of silver. The chariot was made in India and shipped here in 12 parts to be assembled. It is 6.5 metres tall and has 240 bells and a pair of horses on it. ' (source quote: Wikepedia)

Malaysia hosts around 28 million inhabitants (Malaysians)  with all kind of background. The three most important groups are the people with Malay origins (60%),  Chinese origins (30%) and Indian origin (7%), They all have their own religion & festivals. The country recognizes these differences in culture, food, clothing and religion. The whole country 'benefits' of  the many national holidays related to the (religious) festivals of specific groups.

On instagram silkandpaper you can watch the video and hear the 'mantra's' linked to the photostill above by clicking on the IG button below of this page.

Colours on Canvas-Such an inspiration

With a dear 'art appreciating friend' I recently visited the white & clean art gallery The Edge in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur. The exhibition shown is the latest solo exhibition of Rafiee Ghani named HOMELAND. According to the text in the beautiful catalog the name 'relates to the increasingly common phenomenon of people and even whole communities being displaced by violent conflicts and natural calamities in various parts of the world'.
'Even in Malaysia, the annual floods in the east coast of the peninsula continue to cause hardship on the people.
The 26 oil on canvas works (most of them dated in 2014/15) are not merely pretty pictures in vibrant colours but reminders of people who flee their homes in search of refuge for various reasons.
As an artist who has traveled far & wide, Rafiee finds the plight & sight of communities that have to overcome great obstacles to resettle far from their homeland very moving.
Rafiee aims to delve into global & social issues and highlight such problems instead of closing his eyes to them.
Born in Kedah (peninsula Malaysia) Rafiee grew up in a village environment and moved to Kelantan in 1962.  With an interest in art sparked by European postcards, the young artist traveled to Europe when he was just 18. After a stint in a print workshop in the Hague, the Netherlands ( Academy  for visual arts), Rafiee returned to Malaysia and completed his studies at the MARA/UTM technical university in Kuala Lumpur and subsequently at the Manchester Metropolitan University in the eighties. In 1993 he decided to devote himself full time to art.'

As expats we are also living outside our original homeland, we found in Malaysia or in other countries in the wide world a new homeland, sometimes temporarily, short or for a long period, other people migrated for good. Most of us were not driven by violent circumstances or calamities nor were huge obstacles found. On the contrary the majority found a better life and more luxury (and more pleasant weather) than at home. As for myself: this exotic country brought me such an inspiration for my silk painting & photography & editing colourful cards.

My first blog post ever

... and yes, that is scary. Very scary. It is like entering an uninhabited & unknown land. Behind which tree are the  lions & bears hidden? When will the snowstorms take me by surprise? Which critical persons will read my thoughts & see my pictures who I can't see in return?

Not only did i never write a blog post before, neither did I read a lot of blogs nor do i follow any famous blog writers. So that leaves the most important issue here. About what on earth shall I write something what is interesting enough for other people in the wide world to read?

But the redeeming answer came this morning from an inspirational designer/blog writer who gives teaching lessons in blogging. One of her quotes was that other people like to read personal stories behind the screens.

And then I fully realised: everyone is unique and has a unique story to tell. And as I am blessed to live with a Western-European mindset in an East-Asian region, why should I be scared for the unknown, with the experience of finding my way in so many different foreign countries I lived & traveled in? Why wouldn't I be able to find interesting stories and pictures in the location I am planted now, happily living in a country which is so colourful & exotic & totally different than where I come from. I am most privileged having the opportunity to  see the world with special eyes. eyes with a question mark engraved in the retina which makes me wonder. and with the wonder starts the writing. With this new insight i finish here my first blog post ever. Scary? Not at all, only exciting...

PS while writing this blog behind the screen with the warm tropical breeze around, I haven't encountered any bears at all, yet.