10 things to know about the celebrations to mark the Johor Sultan's coronation

Johor is set to hold its first royal coronation in 55 years for Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar on Monday, March 23. To mark the occasion, the day has been declared a public holiday and street parades, concerts and sporting competitions are just some of the major events that have been lined up.

Here are 10 things to know about the Sultan of Johor's coronation celebrations.

1. The crowning glory 

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To mark the historic occasion, the coronation ceremony will see the Mufti of Johor - the state’s Islamic head - placing a jewel-encrusted crown on Sultan Ibrahim.
The royal crown is made by London jeweller JW Benson and comes in at 1.6kg, equivalent to the weight of three iPads, according to Johor Royal Court president Abdul Rahim Ramli.

It is made of gold, silver and encrusted with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires. Meanwhile, the Sultan's wife, Raja Zarith Sofiah, will be formally crowned the Permaisuri (Queen) of Johor and adorned with a white gold tiara studded with diamonds.

2. The royal robe
Another key highlight of the ceremony are the royal robes (kain pelayang diraja) that will be donned by Sultan Ibrahim and Raja Zarith.

According to Bernama, the blue robes are made of special silk in London. They will be stitched with pepper and gambier motifs along with the word “Sultan of Johor” in Jawi, all using gold thread.

The robes will flow "from the shoulders to the ground" and the royal couple's children will hold on to the other end when they follow the couple from behind as part of the proceedings.

Jawi script is made up of Arabic letters adapted for writing in the Malay language.

3. High-powered guest list

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Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak is one of the high-powered guests set to be in attendance. Others include the Sultan of Brunei, Malay rulers and governors as well as close members of the Johor royal family, the Sultan revealed in an interview last week. 

4. Coronation memorabilia
In addition to official souvenirs, commemorative postage stamps in denominations of 60 sen, 80 sen and RM1 will be on sale at the post offices from Monday. The Bank Negara, Malaysia's central bank, is also issuing gold commemorative medallions for the occasion.

5. City all dressed up
LED lamps have been used to dress up Johor Baru’s city centre and transform it into a fairyland at night, according to media reports. State flags have also been placed over road dividers along the city centre's major roads.

6. Open air concerts and sporting events
Members of the public are also being treated to an array of events that are being held in conjunction with the coronation ceremony.

They include the much-anticipated free open air concerts that are slated for March 26 to 29. Although initially featuring a host of international artistes including the hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas, Korean girl group Sistar, and Taiwanese duo Fuying & Sam, those acts have since been dropped at the request of Sultan Ibrahim himself.

An NST report citing the Johor religious council said the decision was made in light of “public sensitivities with regards to the coronation ceremony”. The concerts will now feature mostly local and regional acts such as Malaysian artistes Sheila Majid, Jaclyn Victor, Penny Tai and Shila Amzah,  and Indonesian singer Rossa.

Aside from musical acts, the public can also catch firework displays over the rest of next week at Danga Bay.

They include a decorated boat parade and procession around Danga Bay that will showcase 23 beautiful boat floats, including one from each Johor district and those from public and private corporations. 

There will also be a power boat race involving seven countries, including Brazil, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Singapore.

A sports carnival will also be held at Danga Bay involving sports such as beach volleyball, beach netball and beach football. A cycling championship billed as the Coronation Tour and spanning 400km is also in the line-up.

The champions of all the events will receive the Coronation Cup from the Sultan on March 29.

7. Signs to mark the occasion 

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More than a dozen giant billboards with the words "Daulat Tuanku" ("Long Live The King") has been erected along major roads in the city to publicise the coronation ceremony. The signs are also on many government and privately owned buildings in the state. In keeping with tradition, traditional elements such as Jawi script are also being used to decorate buntings and advertisement boards, Bernama reported. 

8. Reviving an old tradition
Capturing the younger generation’s interest is a key focus of the coronation, according to Datuk Abdul Rahim. 

The Sultan, he said, wanted to revive old royal traditions that are increasingly being forgotten by the younger generation. “Tuanku wanted his coronation conducted in an esteemed manner so that the traditions will be appreciated and remembered by the people and the generations to come,” he told the New Straits Times.  

9. The coronation will be televised and live streamed 
The ceremony will take place at Bilik Singgahsana (the throne room) at the Istana Besar, also known as the Grand Palace. Some 30,000 people are expected to witness the coronation motorcade along the main roads in Johor Bahru. In addition, there will also be a live telecast through selected television stations, including public broadcaster RTM and on giant screens at the state's main square or Dataran Bandaraya Johor Baru. 

The ceremony can also be watched online through a live stream from the official Johor Sultan coronation website.

10. Malay, English and Islamic Influences
Sultan Ibrahim’s coronation will highlight not only the rich royal legacies of the Malays but also feature English and Islamic influences. For example, a prayer and thanksgiving ceremony has been held ahead of the coronation for people to pray for the well-being of the Sultan and for the proceedings to go smoothly. The English influences can be seen in the crowning ceremony and the oath of loyalty pledged by the citizens to the monarchs.

SOURCES: THE STAR, NEW STRAITS TIMES, BERNAMA, OFFICIAL JOHOR SULTAN CORONATION WEBSITE, THE SUN DAILY