Saturday, August 8

Lee: Our colourful ethnic cultures are important tourist attractions

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 (Standing from fifth left) Dr Anbalagan, Lee and Thin Hin with MHS members and the Barathanatyam dancers.

(Standing from fifth left) Dr Anbalagan, Lee and Thin Hin with MHS members and the Barathanatyam dancers.

MIRI: Cultural diversity is an element that attracts tourists to Malaysia, especially to multiracial Sarawak which is known for its colourful ethnic cultures.

In view of this, Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin said Sarawakians must work together to preserve their cultural practices so that the state and country could continue to prosper with continuous influx of tourists.

“We can all live happily together because of our respect for each other’s cultures and beliefs. This cultural diversity is the thing that attracts tourists to come and visit Sarawak,” he said adding that these values must be protected at all times.

He urged Sarawakians to always unite and protect their beloved state from extremists who were out to destroy these values that bring people of all races and religions together.

“These values are not only the reason we live in unity, but it also attracts tourists into our state.

“We are very proud of our cultural diversity and we want to show tourists our beautiful cultures,” he said when officiating at the Miri Hindu Society’s Salangai Pooja ceremony.

The ceremony was held at Kamini Durga Eswari Amman Temple to celebrate the achievement of 10 Barathanatyam dancers from Kamini Bharatalaya Academy.

Also present at the function were councillor Lee Thin Hin, representing Piasau assemblyman Dato Sebastian Ting; MHS vice president Dr Anbalagan Krishnan and a dance teacher of the academy Kalai Chelvy.

Salangai Pooja is an important occasion in a dancer’s journey in Barathanatyam. It is done when students complete a beginner level of the formal study in Barathanatyam. Upon completion of this level, these dancers can start wearing a special anklet and participate in stage dance performances.

Earlier, Lee said he was happy to see the newly completed Hindu temple,the first one in Miri, being fully utilised.

“It is good to see this piece of land given by the government being fully utilised. It is proof that our government is supportive of all races and religions,” he said.

He also praised the dancers for their achievement and hoped that they could use the talent to promote tourism and introduce their culture to others.

Barathanatyam dancers who completed their beginners level yesterday were Priyangaa Gopikrishnan, 7 years old; Luvasshny Selvam, 8; Roshini Khautaman, 7; Dhanieya Murugan, 10; Anisha Praveen, 12; Jeeviga Nagarajan, 9; Veeradhaarini Dhanuskodi, 13; Divyasini Anbalagan, 14; Boomika Dhanuskodi, 14; and Bathmawathy Perumallo, 31.