To walk down Jalan Tukang Emas (Goldsmith Street) in Melaka is to experience just about the most intense concentration of religious heritage in Asia, if not the world. Head south past the Chinese Cheng Hoon Teng (‘Green Cloud’) temple, established in 1645 and thus the country’s oldest functioning temple, and the smell of incense will barely have dissipated by the time you get to the Kampung Kling Mosque, built originally in wood by Indian Muslim traders in 1748. Time it right and the call to prayer will still be ringing in your ears when you reach the vibrantly coloured Sri Poyatha Moorthi, one of the oldest intact Hindu temple in Malaysia, founded in 1781. These three places of worship are all on the same road – unsurprisingly nicknamed ‘Harmony Street’.
The Malaysian government used to market its country as ‘Malaysia, Truly Asia’, which encompasses a complex concept with beautiful simplicity. The slogan alludes to the fact that the South-East Asian country is home to three of the world’s major races: Malay, Chinese and Indian. This makes for a calendar packed with religious festivals and a cuisine as diverse as they come.
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