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Independence Day in Malaysia

Hari Merdeka, Malaysia’s Independence Day, is celebrated every year on August 31. It’s definitely a colorful, festive time to be in Kua-la Lumpur or traveling anywhere in Malaysia!

The Federation of Malaya (predecessor to Malaysia) gained independence from Britain in 1957. Malaysians celebrate the historic event as a national holiday with parades, fireworks, excitement, and flag-waving cheer. Tourists enjoy getting to see the many groups in processions dressed in traditional garb to represent their ethnic backgrounds.

Although Kuala Lumpur is the holiday’s epicenter, expect small-er Hari Merdeka celebrations all over the country. Special sporting events are arranged, and stores promote sales.

Hari Merdeka is pronounced as “har-ee mer-day-kuh.”

The Federation of Malaya gained independence from Brit-ish rule on August 31, 1957. The official Malayan Declaration of Independence was read at 9:30 a.m. at the Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur before dignitaries that included the King and Queen of Thailand. Over 20,000 people gathered to celebrate the sover-eignty of their new country.

On August 30, 1957, the night before the official declaration, a crowd gathered at Merdeka Square — a large field in Kuala Lumpur — to witness the birth of an independent nation. The lights were turned off at 11:58 p.m. for two minutes of darkness. The British Union Jack was lowered, and Ma-laysia’s new flag was raised in its place. At midnight, the lights were switched back on for the first time in the new country.

Cities and smaller places (Georgetown in Penang is one) throughout Malaysia have their own local celebrations for Hari Merdeka, however, Kuala Lum-pur is undoubtedly the place to be! Squeeze into the crowd to watch the processions and fireworks.

Each Independence Day in Ma-laysia is given a logo and theme, usually a slogan that promotes ethnic unity. Malaysia has an eclectic mix of Malay, Indian, and Chinese citizens with different cultures, ideologies, and religions. Building a sense of national unity is a reoccurring theme on Hari Merdeka.

Hari Merdeka is observed enthusiastically every August 31 with a massive celebration and parade known as the Merdeka Parade. Lots of politicians and VIPs take their turns at the microphone on stage, then the fun begins. A royal procession, cultural performances, military demonstration, intricate floats, sporting events, and other interesting diversions fill the day. Grab a flag and start waving it!

The Merdeka Parade went on tour to different parts of Malaysia but regularly returns to Merdeka Square, where it all began.