Mum Teaches Children About The Beauty Of Multiculturalism
This family in Kuching, Sarawak embraces the spirit of muhibbah (a feeling of friendship and closeness) and multiculturalism instead of rejecting it.
In Peninsular Malaysia, the lines between races and cultures is often very well defined, with each race/culture sticking to themselves and rarely mingling.
That's why it is truly heartening to hear of this family in Kuching, Sarawak which embraces the spirit of muhibbah (a feeling of friendship and closeness) and multiculturalism instead of rejecting it.
Noralina Abdullah was born Song Ai Ling and converted to Islam upon marrying a Malay entrepreneur 20 years ago.
Today, the 45 year old makes sure her three children understand the beauty of both parents' cultures and customs.
She does this by placing equal importance on the major celebrations of each culture - Chinese New Year and Hari Raya.
Every Chinese New Year, she brings children Nurul Natasha, 20, Nurul Nabila, 16, and Muhammad Zulfiqar, 12 home to visit their grandmother Yeo Eik Lian, now aged 81.
The whole family always makes it a point to "balik kampung" for reunion dinner, even when they were living in Kuala Lumpur between 1996 and 2009.
"It is important for our children to understand the culture and customs of both races,” she said. “Only my faith has changed but not the culture.”
She says that gathering with her family, some who come back for Chinese New Year from overseas, strengthens the family bond.
Noralina says that the family would visit relatives together, watch lion dance performances which are her children's favourite and of course, take part in the giving and receiving of ang pow.
Her husband does his part as well, volunteering to buy yee sang for the reunion dinner each year while her in-laws would also chip in, cooking halal food for Muslim guests at the family's open house.
“There were several times when they brought along halal food to join us for our reunion dinner, too,” she added.
This is repeated during the Hari Raya festivities where the family visits and celebrates the holiday with their Malay grandparents in turn.
“That’s the beauty of mixed marriages – we get to celebrate different festive occasions.
“We will fast and when the festival comes, we’ll visit our Muslim friends and relatives,” she said, adding that it is her in-laws who insist that her children know their roots and maintain their traditions and cultures.
From this beautiful story, it is obvious that tolerance for other cultures and traditions start at home. So this festive season, lets all be mindful of what we teach our children.