Baju Melayu

I like wearing my baju Melayu. I think I have 3 or 4 pairs that I can still wear, the oldest I still have was the one I had from what I was in form 5 of secondary school some 12 odd years ago. I havn't grown much and I don't wear them often so they last a long time. That's also why I haven't bought a new one since god knows when. I occasionally just buy a new sampin every now and again to make each raya a little different.

Aidilfitri 2002 at Leeds with the same baju Melayu I wore today but with a different sampin

It's funny how foreign people see our traditional costume. I used to be proud of my baju Melayu and every Eid when I was a student at Leeds Uni I would wear the complete baju melayu for Eid prayers and go straight to my lectures after that, in my baju Melayu. ofcourse I had a jacket on as a walked through Hyde Park from the Grand Mosque to my department but everyone could see my brightly embroidered/woven Songket sampin. I must admit that I did get the occasional stare and second look from passer bys, but one would expect that being in a foreign country. My friends would be like "love the little skirt you wear with your outfit".... hehehe... yeah, it does look like a skirt come to think of it. Well, It's a nice skirt. Hey, superman wears his underwear on the outside so wearing a skirt over your trousers isn't so bad in comparison huh? ;) The songkok never really attracted much attention I guess because it's black and it's just head gear. When I spent my raya of 2006 in Tokyo I also went to the embassy for prayers in my full baju Melayu and later went visiting Malaysian "open houses" on the Tokyo trains and subways in he same attire. I was never ashamed to wear my national dress in front of non Malaysians...

 Eid 2006 at the Malaysian embassy Tokyo

So, today we had our annual dekoraya competition at the office. As usual, each department had to decorate their office with a specific theme, sometimes of our choice but sometimes it is given. This year, the theme was MerdekaRaya... Anyways, I will not talk about the competition now - I haven't got any good photos to put up with the post so we'll wait till someone posts some pics on Facebook, after which I pounce upon their album and steal some photo to be put here! hehehe

Obviously since the whole department was decorated with both merdeka and raya themes, the people would also have to be "in the right attire" to compliment the raya setting. I as usual wore my complete baju melayu. The red one above but with a different sampin. I just wore it from home and unlike most people, those were the ONLY clothes I brought to work today. Others came in normal work attire and changed into and out off their baju melayu after the event. Obviously, this is Malaysia so I didn't get any stares or anything.

Eid 2006 in Tsukuba, Japan - Helping the Malaysian students raise money by selling traditional Malaysian kuih muih at the Tsukuba Uni "Gakuensai".
But AFTER work, I decided to go to the Taman Melawati Ramadhan Bazaar. It is supposed to be one of the biggest Ramadhan bazaars in KL with choiced of food galore. I was walking around looking for Apam Balik which I couldn't find, -disappointed- =(. How come a Bazaar Ramadhan of this size not have any apam balik!? Anyways, while walking around I couldn't help but notice that quite a few people were looking at me and a couple of ppl gave me second looks. At one point I heard a female voice saying "Siap dengan sampin tu... macam nak pergi kahwin..." which translates to "Complete with sampin.... like he's going to get married..."

Yes my faithful readers, this incident has reinforced the fact that the full baju melayu has now been relegated to official and religious events only. Eventhough civil servants wear the full baju melayu to office on Fridays (today is a Friday) the sight of someone wearing a full baju melayu still provokes gossip and second looks. It is no longer common place for Malays to wear baju melayu under normal everyday circumstances. It has now turned into a ceremonial costume reserved for official functions and religious activities. That's a shame as it is a very nice, and unique attire to be wearing. It's a shame also that someone wearing a full baju melayu in public gets people talking like that. I think we should be encouraged to wear our traditional costumes to ensure their continuity and ubiquitousness in Malaysian society, Just like how you can see women wearing their traditional dress taking the train in downtown Tokyo. We can make a change...