Senior woman playing traditional game with grandchildren

According to the 2010 census, there are 514,909 Malaysian citizens in the administrative district of Seremban. They consist of 56.4% Bumiputera, 26.2% Chinese and 17% Indian and 0.5% others excluding non-citizens. There are an additional 41,026 non-citizens. Recent estimates indicate a rapid growth of the city’s population. With an annual growth rate exceeding 3% annually, current estimates place the population at over 700,000. Seremban and Nilai, the neighbouring town, account for about half of Negeri Sembilan’s population.

The religious makeup of Seremban’s population can be deduced from the 2010 census report which found that the state’s population was made up of 60.3% Muslim, 21.2% Buddhist, 13.4% Hindu, 2.4% Christian, 1.1% of unknown affiliation, 0.8% non-religious, 0.5% Chinese religion follower or Taoist and 0.3%. followers of other religions.

The great majority of Bumiputra Malays in the state trace their origin to the Minang people, an ethnic  group native to the Minangkabau Highlands of West Sumatra. ‘Minangkabau’ itself derives from two words — ‘menang’ (win) and ‘kerbau’ (buffalo). Hence visual representation of the buffalo horn is prevalent in Minangkabau architecture and traditional female headgear.

The Minang community is also noted for its adherence to their customary law called Adat Perpatih which emphasizes the matrilineal tradition. Adat Perpatih allows for property to be passed on along the female line.

The state is also unusual in terms of its royal house. Unlike the monarchy in other Malay states which are under the rule of a sultan, in Negeri Sembilan the ruler is called Yamtuan Besar or his title in full, Yang di-Pertuan Besar.

A Yamtuan Besar is selected by a council of ruling chiefs called Undang from among leading princes belonging to four noble houses (Putera Yang Empat). This outlier practice in Negeri Sembilan is different from the standard monarchical system found in the rest of the Malay states where the law of primogeniture, i.e. the right of the eldest son to inherit prevails.