Critical Study of theories surrounding the historic arrival of a popular Shiite festival in contemporary Sunni Malaysia
Humanities and Human Services, Queensland University of Technology
Paper presented to the Social Change in the 21st century Conference, Centre for Social Change Research, Queensland University of Technology, Ictober 2004
As part of a larger project I will limit this study to theories surrounding the historic arrival of the word boria in contemporary Malaysia. I will critically examine plausible theories surrounding boria’s introduction from Indian or Persian languages and connection to the Shiite religious Muharram festival and demonstrate that much ambiguity still exists. A study of boria will not only offer deeper understanding of the religious and social developments of Islam in Malaysia but may also reflect the change of perceptions towards the more hybrid popular Islam which existed prior to the arrival of the orthodox reform movement in the late nineteenth century. This orthodoxy certainly manifested itself during political, religious and social uncertainties following the First World War when at both Penang and the northern Malay state of Kedah religious Islamic officials moved to ban boria. In fact little is known about Islam and society in the Malay Archipelago prior to the arrival of Islamic orthodoxy and local Malay sources on the subject are rather scarce, sketchy or in the case of historic documents have been tampered with.