The Concept of Kampung

Some people will literally translate the Malay word kampung into hometown. Some will not even translate that word at all and just write kampung in their writing. But what is kampung really to Malaysians? Hopefully, I can explain it to you foreigners as clear as possible.

My kampung in Tanjung Rimau, Melaka. Looks modern, don’t it?

My kampung is in Tanjung Rimau, Melaka. It was the place where my father was raised and where his parents are living currently. My other kampung is Alor Gajah, Melaka. It was the place where my mother was raised and her parents are living currently. But I was born and raised in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur is my hometown but not my kampung.  Do you get it so far?

A slightly less modern home in a kampung. Made of wood, even.

An even more less modern home in a kampung. It doesn’t even have concrete!

Basically, kampungs are defined by generation. That is the simplest way of putting it. My parents once had kampungs in places like Johor and Perak which was the home of their grandparents and after their grandparents dies and they have kids, their kampungs become the place where they were raised and where their parents are currently in. Their kids experience the same thing as they did, having kampungs at their grandparents and after a period of succession, will have their kampungs at the place where they were raised and where their parents are living at the moment. Are you following?

Generally, the concept of kampungs and the succession by generation can be related to the Muslim holy festival of Eid-ul-Fitri. During Eid-ul-Fitri, families will gather and ask for forgiveness for past faults. Eid-ul-Fitri is a fabulous occasion and an important date in the Muslim calendar. Some people even forget enemy bonds so that they can bask in the glory that is Eid-ul-Fitri. To get together, families will go to the one place they have in common: their parents home. Grown up brothers and sisters will bring their kids to their parents place and the effect is that a kampung is born. The same thing will happen to their kids and their kids after that, a succession by generation. That should be clear for you.

Another concept is that kampung is a place that is not modern or not a major city. This concept was insinuated when young people leave their hometowns to go to the big cities and as the cities grow more modern, the hometown remains the same and become their kampung. Basically, kampung in this meaning means places that are backwards. This concept of kampung is not supported that much and will mostly be redundant when future generations decide where their kampung is. If they chose their parents home, then it will be in Kuala Lumpur or other big cities as people now have permanent homes there for work in the cities. Even now, some people celebrate Eid-ul-Fitri in the cities but visibly, cities are empty during Eid-ul-Fitri which makes this concept of kampung probable for the time being.

Kuala Lumpur before Eid-ul-Fitri…

…Kuala Lumpur one day before Eid-ul-Fitri (because everyone is leaving the city to their kampung at the same time)…

… and Kuala Lumpur during the first few days of Eid-ul-Fitri.

I am writing this as a first post of my new Malaysia travelog, despite being born and raised in Malaysia. I hope that my travelog on Malaysia will help people understand, especially outsiders about the unique country that is Malaysia. I started with the concept of kampung because I think that this is one of the things that foreigners are always confused with. Till next time.


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