GEORGE TOWN (PENANG), MALAYSIA
7 JULY, 2022
George Town starts its open cultural celebrations to observe the 14 th anniversary of UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE site on 7 July, for the first time since the pandemic outbreak about two years ago.
This day has been commemorated online in the past two years and the fun filled colorful month of July was missing.
It is a regional public holiday today, several hundreds of tourists have arrived from all over the country to witness the cultural events and shows.
This holiday commemorates the anniversary of the recognition of George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on this day in 2008.
HISTORY OF GEORGE TOWN HERITAGE DAY
Founded by Francis Light of the British East India Company in 1786, George Town was the first British settlement in Southeast Asia. The town was named after the British King, George III.
George Town was founded in 1786 as a free port to serve the British interest in South-East Asia. The establishment of the port made George Town a hub for global trading, attracting foreign merchants, largely from China, India and Arab countries. As a result, George Town developed a multi-ethnic society that still exists today. This diversity is reflected in the architecture of the city, as well as its rich intangible cultural heritage.
“Melaka and George Town, historic cities of the Straits of Malacca have developed over 500 years of trading and cultural exchanges between East and West in the Straits of Malacca. The influences of Asia and Europe have endowed the towns with a specific multicultural heritage that is both tangible and intangible. With its government buildings, churches, squares and fortifications, Melaka demonstrates
the early stages of this history originating in the 15th-century Malay sultanate and the Portuguese and Dutch periods beginning in the early 16th century. Featuring residential and commercial buildings, George Town represents the British era from the end of the 18th century. The two towns constitute a unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.”, stated United Nations Educational Scientific Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) inscribing Malacca and George Town on the World Heritage List on 7, July, 2008.
The government of Penang announced 7 July for observing World Heritage City Day in George Town since 2008.
TRADITIONS AND CELEBRATIONS
A community-centred festival is held each year in honour of World Heritage Day. Each year, a theme is chosen for the festival and events are centred around the theme.
Many of the activities are centred around historical and cultural events that defined today’s daily life in Penang. The festival lasts several days and includes traditional food, arts and crafts, cultural festivities and events that highlight both the history and the culture of George Town.
Local communities play a key role in all celebrations, providing presenters, participants, performers and folklorists who work to keep the history and culture alive. Visitors are given unlimited access to
the living traditions not only of George Town but surrounding communities as well. Some of the celebrations are dedicated to rare and endangered traditions in an effort to remind citizens and visitors of the importance of heritage.
Dr ANG Ming Chee is the General Manager of George Town World Heritage Incorporated and a facilitator of the UNESCO Global Network of Facilitators on Intangible Cultural Heritage. Born and raised in the inner city of George Town, she incorporates innovative ideas and holistic management on the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site for the benefit of the local people.
Talking to The Travel and Tourism Times , Dr.Ang Ming Chee, GM of George Town World Heritage Incorporated has informed that cultural performances have already started on 2 and 3 July at Lebuh Acheh Basketball Court, George Town.
Today cultural workshops in the garden will be held at Armenian Park, George Town and mini documentary film screening will take place at Dewa Bellia Lebuh Acheh, George Town .
On 7 July the celebrations start with the 5km George Town Discovery Walk at 7 AM in the George Town Unesco World Heritage Site enclave.
The annual celebration returns with over 20 cultural performances, nine cultural workshops and eight video documentaries.
“Emphasis is given to performance arts and traditional craft, while stressing on the importance of peaceful coexistence between people, nature and culture,” she said. Among the performances that will be showcased are boria, Odissi dance, dikir barat, lion dance, martial arts demonstrations, Chinese orchestra medley and a sitar recital. The George Town Heritage Celebrations will be followed by the iconic George Town Festival taking place from July 9 to 24,” said Dr. Ang Ming Chee.\
“ It is a great pleasure and a big relief to see that so many people are coming back to George Town after almost two years and the open celebrations of the biggest cultural festival at George Town has began,”says Maya Mathani, owner of the Bespoke Tailoring Shop, Maya Tailors at Bayview Hotel, Penang.
The biggest tourist attraction is the World Heritage Site comprising Armenian Street, Leith Street and Pitt Street.
However, the nearby places of tourist spots are The Chocolate Boutique, Penang Bee Gallery, Upside Down Museum in George Town, Dark Mansion, Prangin mall, 1 St Avenue Mall,New World Park, Penang Bird Park, Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm.
Shopaholics can also collect cheap souvenirs from the local street markets and a number of streetside eateries are also available for the food conoisors. There is huge demand for Durian, the national fruit of
Malaysia. ” Malindo Air, a premium Malaysian airline, is supposed to start flight services between Penang to Kolkata but nothing is confirmed yet,” said Anil Punjabi, chairman (East) of Travel Agents Federation of India (TAFI).
While the air is the fastest mode to reach Penang from Kuala Lumpur, tourists also visit the Heritage City by buses and cabs from the national capital, though the time takes longer. There are nine ways to get to Penang which also includes the high speed train services and ferry services. The flight time to reach Penang is about 50 minutes from Kualalumpur. For a local ride the red iconic rickshaws attract