HINDU FESTIVALS IN MALAYSIA AND THEIR FOOD AS UNITY TOOLS: A QUALITATIVE STUDY
Introduction: Individuals who do not really understand about the religion diversification lead to poor religion intolerance. The objective of this study was to attain information regarding the nature of Hindu festivals and their food. Methods: A qualitative exploratory study using semi-structured interviews was conducted. In total, five Hindu respondents volunteered to participated in this study. Results: This study found inconclusive to classify Hindu festivals as major and minor festival as well as to determine whether each of Hindu festival is religious, cultural or mix of religious and cultural. These are due to many inconsistent data found in this study. On the other hand, this study stated significant perception on the Hindu festival food in Malaysia where there are no specific food being served during the festivals except during Pongal in which sweet rice is served. The preparation of the festival food is almost similar with what Hindus usually prepare their food outside of the festivals. A few ingredients for Indian heritage food maybe different, plus a few way of their preparation using ground clay pot, pan and banana leaf. While for the prohibition of food, respondents stated that beef is not allowed for Hindus to consume and some Hindus also avoid from eating pork and drinking alcohol. Pertaining to opinions of festival food as a tool of unity, respondents agree that by knowing other religion festivals people can understand each other, and religious tension can be prevented. Conclusion: This study can be a source of reference on Hindu festivals and their food in Malaysia for the use of relevant authorities.