The Seasonal Calendar of the Bateq Indigenous in West Malaysia

Authors: Roshidah Hassan, Siti Zaidah Zainuddin (Universiti Malaya)
Speakers: Roshidah Hassan
Strand: Language, Community, Ethnicity
Session Type: General Session


Different indigenous cultures have their own unique seasonal calendars, based on their local environment and cultural practices. This concept of calendar is intimately connected to the land and the cycles of nature, which govern the rhythms of their lives. It serves as a way of understanding the natural world and maintaining a connection to the land and its cycles. According to the Indigenous Knowledge Institute, this information was recorded and encoded into oral history, song, dance, and ceremony, ensuring it could be accurately passed and maintained. This phenomenon is also seen in the Bateq community, a subgroup of the Negrito group in West Malaysia. There are about 1784 Bateq people in Malaysia (JAKOA, 2023) and they primarily inhabiting the rainforest areas of the state of Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu. To understand their seasonal calendar, we conducted interviews with the Head of the Bateq community and a few elderlies in the Felda Aring 5, Gua Musang, Kelantan. It is found that new year for the Bateq community is celebrated in March, and it is known as “Perayaan Musim Bunga” (spring season celebration). This is not found in other Orang Asli communities in the Negrito group like Jahai, Kintaq, Kensiu, Lanoh and Mendriq. They record the information about their new year celebration in their song entitled “Serujam Tanjung” which is sung during a cultural ceremony called “Sewang”. Understanding the Bateq seasonal calendar can provide a baseline for understanding their daily practices and activities that are associated with seasonal variations.


Australia’s National Science Agency

Clarke, P.A. (2009). Australian Aboriginal ethnometeorology and seasonal calendars. History & Anthropology, 20(2), 79–106.

Ethnic Distribution of Orang Asli by Ethnicity

Hamacher, D.W., Tapim, A., Passi, S. and Barsa, J. (2018). ‘Dancing with the stars’ – Astronomy and Music in the Torres Strait. In: N. Campion and C. Impey (eds) Imagining Other Worlds: Explorations in Astronomy and Culture, Sophia Centre Press. Lampeter, UK. pp. 151-161.

Indigenous Knowledge Institute, The University of Melbourne

Keywords: Indigenous community, Bateq people, Worldview, Orang Asli