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Malaysia welcomes back Bon Odori festival after Covid break

About 35,000 people are estimated to have attended this year's Bon Odori festival, an annual cultural event held in Malaysia for decades.

Photographs by Ahmad Sadiq Mohamad Sani

Participants gather at the Panasonic National Sport Complex in Shah Alam for the first Bon Odori festival in two years, on July 16, 2022.
Participants gather at the Panasonic National Sport Complex in Shah Alam for the first Bon Odori festival in two years, on July 16, 2022.
Participants wearing colourful yukata or light cotton kimonos, a traditional Japanese outfit for summer, enter the complex.
Participants wearing colourful yukata or light cotton kimonos, a traditional Japanese outfit for summer, enter the complex.
A child wearing a bright pink kimono runs inside the stadium compound.
A child wearing a bright pink kimono runs inside the stadium compound.
Laughing and chatting, participants, many dressed in traditional Japanese outfits, take pictures on blankets spread out on the grass before the start of the festival.
Laughing and chatting, participants, many dressed in traditional Japanese outfits, take pictures on blankets spread out on the grass before the start of the festival.
Others stand for a shot, smiling in anticipation of the first Bon Odori celebration since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Others stand for a shot, smiling in anticipation of the first Bon Odori celebration since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A woman wearing a blue yukata smiles beneath strings of red and white lanterns.
A woman wearing a blue yukata smiles beneath strings of red and white lanterns.
As the sun sets, dancers prepare for the first performance on a raised stage known as a yagura.
As the sun sets, dancers prepare for the first performance on a raised stage known as a yagura.
Some participants come equipped with hand fans to deal with the warm outdoor temperature.
Some participants come equipped with hand fans to deal with the warm outdoor temperature.
They happily join in the dance, clapping and waving their hands as they circle the stage.
They happily join in the dance, clapping and waving their hands as they circle the stage.
A woman in a red and white kimono with a mask shaped like a cat's face joins in the fun.
A woman in a red and white kimono with a mask shaped like a cat's face joins in the fun.
As evening falls, the lanterns are lit, providing blobs of light as they sway overhead.
As evening falls, the lanterns are lit, providing blobs of light as they sway overhead.
Japanese students wearing colourful costumes perform a dance on the main stage.
Japanese students wearing colourful costumes perform a dance on the main stage.
On the ground below, meanwhile, participants wave their arms in time to the music.
On the ground below, meanwhile, participants wave their arms in time to the music.
Drummers stop for a break and a quick drink of water behind the stage.
Drummers stop for a break and a quick drink of water behind the stage.
This year's Bon Odori festival is estimated to have drawn more than 35,000 visitors.
This year's Bon Odori festival is estimated to have drawn more than 35,000 visitors.