SOCIAL AND CULTURAL
Alor Setar’s lifestyle reflects its tradition of socio-cultural diversity that is build around its strong and distinctive Malay/Thai roots. These roots are reflected in the local variation of the Malay language with its own slang and dialects. as well as in the food, songs and dances. Among the local traditional songs and dances which are reflective of daily lives are Tarian Cinta Sayang, Lagu-lagu Berendoi and Wayang Kulit.
The Silat, a form of traditional Malay self-defence comes in various forms and is performed at occasions such as weddings and formal or traditional functions. One of the best ways to experience the local culture and heritage is through homestay. Homestay programmes in the villages around Alor Setar provide an opportunity to experience the hospitality and traditional lifestyle of the locals at the rustic kampung.
Visitors can also sample a more urban lifestyle in the limited bar and pub culture scattered in the city though its main center is at Langkawi where foreigners and beach goers congregate in sizable numbers.
Proclaimed a city on 21 December 2003, Alor Setar, the Kedah capital, sits only 45km away from southern Thailand and serves as the main northern gateway to Thailand. Thailand is a Buddhist country and it is not surprising to find the cultural and religious influence of Thailand as well as a sizable Malay-Thai community in the city and all across the state. Indians and Hindus have long been an integral part of Kedah history and their legacy still remains.
Kedah’s most famous son Mahathir Mohamad is reported to have said in June 2018, “There are a few spoonfuls of [Indian] blood left in my body, but otherwise, I am a Malay”. Today ‘bumiputera’ and Indian Muslims make up three-quarters of the city’s population of over 400,000 according to the 2010 census while non-Muslim Indians are five percent and Chinese are twelve percent of the total. Kedah is a Muslim state that observes a Friday–Saturday weekend, where Sunday is a working day.