Cultures are generally characterized by a single, unique element or entity present in a society. Some cultures regard religion as their core while others, their nationalistic and political aspirations. Since cultures are composed of a group of people’s traditions and ideals, even art and architecture, can be tools in the study of their cultural core. In Malaysia, people attribute their culture to their religion, Islam (Nakamura, Shiddique & Bajunid, 2001:77). Since it was introduced some 700 years ago, it has defined and organized reform and political movements, especially during their battle for independence until 1957.
Serving as their central culture, the Malays participated in various Muslim resurgences around the globe to show support to their brothers and sisters. For them, it is their way of life. In Agriculture, wherein the needs are satisfied even with low labour outputs, prompted the depiction of “subsistence affluence”, a term that has been imposed with different connotations today (Connel, 1997:45). This developed as agricultural labour has been taken on by both male and female. It has also been associated with the introduction of steel technology, and likewise, the non-use of warfare.
However because of the transition in the food production system, this concept of subsistence affluence has gradually changed into subsistence malaise, characterized by lower labour inputs, production and resilience, and loss of system flexibility (Connel, 1997:48). Slash and Burn, a common practice in agriculture which dates back to thousands of years ago, involves the clearing of forests by felling trees in order to utilize the spaces they create for growing crops. The clearings also attracted small animals through the soft growths. When land becomes unproductive for planting, people move out and the land is left to recover.
This clearly illustrates the three stages involved: the felling of trees, farming, and a full land recovery or fallowing, and the cycle is repeated over and over. The crops planted through the slash and burn practice are reported to be of failure. This is because of poor soil and wandering animals which eat and dig up the tubers and roots (Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2002:526). Fourth world, referring to sub-populations, i. e. populations of nomads, pastoral, and hunters and gatherers, is a term popularized with the publication of Manuel’s The Fourth World: An Indian Reality.
These countries are commonly associated with poor and marginalized societies that are indirectly related to the modern cities and nations. With the 2007 UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, communication and relationships with these Fourth Worlds have been launched. There are almost six thousand Fourth World nations including pre-WWI Ashkenazi in the Pale of Settlement, Palestinians and Kurds in the Middle East, and many Native American / First Nations groups throughout America as well as the indigenous tribes in Africa and Asia.
Feasts of merit are in different forms, i. e. uchizhe, otho-kozhu, Maki-movu, but are generally aimed at showcasing one’s capacity to organize such events for conferring social status. The main function is to prepare a person not only in this world but also in the next, thus proving the unidentified distinction between “purely sacred” activities from the “purely secular” ones (Kirsch, 1973:12). These feasts ultimately gauge one’s wealth and social importance, in terms of the number and lavishness of the events.