Islam is Brunei’s official religion. Thus, most of Bruneian traditions and ceremonies are associated with Islam such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Ramadan. However, Christian religious days like Christmas are counted as one of the national holidays as well as Chinese New Year. The Bruneian traditions and ceremonies are held for different purposes. Some are for the nation and the Sultan, some for Islam and some for the ethnic groups.
National Day of Brunei
It is celebrated on 23rd February of each year. The date marked the end of British protectorate while Declaration of Independence Day was 1st January 1984 (uAseanมหานครอาเซียน, 2013). The nation is so proud that the National Day is celebrated altogether with the royal family, Bruneian forces, police, government officers and all other private and public sectors partaking in organizing the parade at National Stadium (วิทย์ บัณฑิตกุล, 2555: 125).
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s Birthday Celebration
The celebration takes place on 15th July of each year as it marks the Birthday of the Sultan. Bruneian people come out and gather at Omar Ali Saifuddin Garden located in the heart of Bandar Seri Begawan. The Sultan gives his royal speech and two weeks later there is going to be a huge celebration at Istana Nurul Iman Palace (วิทย์ บัณฑิตกุล, 2555: 125).
The Month of Ramadan
Ramadan is a fasting month for Muslims. It takes place in the 9th month of Islamic calendar. The Muslims around the world keep the fast for the whole month by not eating anything from dawn to dusk in order that they would learn the hardship of poor people. Apart from carrying out this duty, the Muslims have study Quran and attend the worship of Allah’s kindness at night (ดลยา เทียนทอง,2557:23). The fasting month is meaningful for the Muslims as their family members are all present. It is the time when they learn to forgive each other for what they have wronged during the year ( ASEAN Tourism, 2014 ).
Hari Raya Aidilfitri Festival
Aidilfitri Festival is also known as the festival of Eid beginning on the first day after the end of the fasting month or the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of Islamic calendar. The Muslims around the world perform meritorious deeds by making donations and giving treats to their friends and relatives (ดลยา เทียนทอง,2557:23). It is the most important festival of the year for Bruneian. The Sultan grants his people as well as Singaporean delegation, diplomats and Chinese businessman association access to the palace so that they can visit and offer His Majesty the blessings (Asean Watch, 2013).
Hari Raya Aidifitri Festival takes 4 days. The first day begins right after the end of Ramadan Month when family members are all present to enjoy their meals.The second day allows the family members to go out and meet other people. Since the first day is reserved to spend with their families, the rest days from the second day to the fourth day are spent to see their neighbors so that they can enjoy meals together. Therefore, this festival is a huge celebration shared by the Bruneian and the Sultan (ASEAN Tourism, 2014).
Adao Gayoh Festival
Tutong District is evergreen area where diversity of nature is so rich especially around the biggest lake of Brunei, Tasek Merimbun. This festival is a tradition of the Dusun ethnic group passing on from generation to generation to show gratitude towards harvested crops. A lot of people gather for unified-spiritual celebration in May 1st of each year. At Meribun village, blowing dart and singing contest are featured (วิทย์ บัณฑิตกุล,2555:135).
Despite the facts that Islam is Brunei’s official religion, most of Bruneian citizen are Muslim, Absolute Monarchy is a form of government and national traditions. Ceremonies are associated with royal court and Islam. Traditions of other ethnic groups like Dusun are often seen every year. This reflects Brunei embraces diversity of other ethnic groups’ traditions in which it allows a space for conservation. As time goes by, all the ethnic groups’ tradition might be a shared cultural treasure of the nation.