Muslim girl in lion dance troupe a hit in Malaysia

The viral video of Ms Mariam Abdul Nazar playing a drum with her lion dance troupe has come at a time when many fear for Malaysia's inter-racial bonds.
The viral video of Ms Mariam Abdul Nazar playing a drum with her lion dance troupe has come at a time when many fear for Malaysia's inter-racial bonds.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA • Despite opposition from her relatives and friends, a Mandarin-speaking Muslim girl insisted on joining a lion dance troupe.

"Friends and relatives think that as a Muslim, it is not right to join the lion dance troupe. I (see) lion dance as a sport," Ms Mariam Abdul Nazar said in a StarTV video that has gone viral.

The video is warming hearts at a time when rising Islamic conservatism in Malaysia seems to be fraying inter-racial bonds.

The 20-year-old said she had to explain to her friends and relatives that lion dance troupes perform and participate in competitions. She added that only then did her friends and family understand her desire to be part of the team.

Ms Mariam, a business student at Universiti Malaya, said she has been a drummer in the troupe for the past eight years.

She has picked up Mandarin along the way.

"It's part of the reason why my Mandarin is okay. I train here and get to communicate," she said.

Ms Mariam added that she joined the troupe because she liked "the sound" the drums make.

"It's powerful, it looks cool and it has a pattern," she said.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 19, 2018, with the headline 'Muslim girl in lion dance troupe a hit in Malaysia'. Print Edition | Subscribe