Understanding cultures for harmony

Twenty-eight full-time students of WOU taking the Comparative Religions course in the May 2018 semester recently put together an exhibition showcasing the major religions in the country.

 Staff checking out the foods sold at the Hinduism corner.

Staff checking out the foods sold at the Hinduism corner.

The two-day exhibition on ‘Culture and Religion’ was organised by the students with the support of WOU’s Learning & Library Services (LLS) unit and held at the main campus on July 9th and 10th.

The exhibition featured the six major religions in Malaysia - Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Taoism. Visitors were able to view items like the Last Supper drawing, rosary beads and votive candles at the Christianity corner; white sacred ash, incense sticks and thirumangalyam (wedding) set at the Hindusim booth; and lotus flowers and Buddha teachings at the Buddhism cubicle. There were explanations to enlighten about the different beliefs.

 Items related to Christianity.

Items related to Christianity.

The students sold foods like huat kuih (prosperity cakes), popiah (spring roll), cream puffs, cup cakes, doughnuts, kuih lapis, fried beehoon and various tidbits and desserts.

WOU Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas declared open the exhibition today, after which the crowd were entertained by a lion dance, a simple Malay joget routine and an Indian folk dance performance.

 Prof Zoraini mentioned the common good values found in all the religions.

Prof Zoraini mentioned the common good values found in all the religions.

In her speech, Prof Zoraini said the exhibition highlighted the diversity of the cultures in Malaysia and the harmony among people of different faiths and beliefs. She said the Comparative Religions course at WOU is beneficial in fostering mutual understanding and respect in the students.

 Being creative - the students perform a simple, improvised lion dance.

Being creative - the students perform a simple, improvised lion dance.

She mentioned the cultural assimilation and harmony that exists in Indonesia, which she observed first hand during her stint abroad in Jakarta. She remarked, “In Malaysia, we are fortunate that we live in a multiracial country. There is so much to gain from learning about each other’s culture and religion. Every religion teaches us the same common values, which is to be respectful, to understand each other, and to be a good person; not to harm anybody, but to live in peace and harmony as well as to help each other in times of need.”

 Pranaven Pratapan (foreground, left) and his coursemates do the joget.

Pranaven Pratapan (foreground, left) and his coursemates do the joget.

The Comparative Religions course is taught by School of Humanities and Social Sciences Deputy Dean Jasmine Emmanuel, while the chief coordinator of the project was Pranaven Pratapan. The LLS head Chew Bee Leng and her team along with Head of Student Engagement, Dr Gurdip Saini, contributed towards the exhibition.

 Indian dance performance by Asswni Mariappan.

Indian dance performance by Asswni Mariappan.