The Malay social organization in Melaka is divided between the practice of the Adat Temenggong, which is patrilineal and more pervasive in several districts, and the Adat Perpatih, which is matrilineal.
Malay women wear loose, long-sleeved tunics called baju kurung worn over a sarong or a tight fitting kebaya. Malay men wear collarless shirts called baju Melayu worn over loose trousers with colourful cloth known as kain samping tied around their waist.
For weddings and religious feasts or special occassions, the kain songket replaces the kain samping. Other indigenous traditions and characteristics are portrayed in the songs such as Dondang Sayang Melayu and the arts of self-defense such as silat (Malay).
The Chinese had flocked to Melaka since the early days of mass migration from the southern provinces of China. The various clans of Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Teochew and Hainanese Chinese still adhere to their individual customs, traditions, food, languages and cultural characteristics with each clan usually specialising in its particular trade.
Most Indians in Melaka are Tamils from South India who had, in the early days mostly inhabited the rubber plantations. However, it is not unusual to see them in various areas of trade including jewelry and fabric shops, whilst some are retail traders, merchants and money lenders.
BABA & NYONYA
Babas and Nyonyas are Melaka's straits-born Chinese or Peranakans (meanging "born here") whose lineage traces back hundreds of years when their descendents arrived and inter-married with the local women. From these mixed marriages evolved a unique culture which retains Chinese customs and Malay traditions.
The Babas and Nyonyas introduced unique furniture, porcelain and chinaware, dress style and delicious food to be found only in Melaka. The Nyonya women dress in sarrong kebaya with Malay decorative brooches and intricately designed jewelry of silver and gold.
Melaka houses the famed Portuguese settlement of Malaysia, founded in 1930. The residents more frequently refer to this settlement as Padre Sua Chang (Priest's Land) in honour of its founders. The community that lives in this settlement are mostly Eurasians of Portuguese descent and make their living mostly as fishermen.
The Portuguese are very religious Catholics and speak a language called Cristang (Cristao). The Portuguese presence in Melaka provides an infusion of a traditional lifestyle, language, customs and music which is indeeed unique. The most popular dance is the Beranyo and the Frapeirra. Christian festivals are celebrated with great splendour and gaiety including Christmas, San Pedro's Fest and Easter.
Malaysia, like many other parts in the world, has its own idigeneous tribal groups. On the Peninsula, they account for only a small percentage of the population. While they can be categorised by their individual tribes, the ones in the Peninsula are most often referred to in generic terms as "Orang Asli" (literally 'Authentic People'). Melaka's own tribal people are known as the Temuan, a Proto-Malay who live on a communal basis in the outskirts of towns, forests fringes and coastal areas.
The Sikh community came to Melaka from India, and brouhght their religion, Sikhism, with them. Originally made up of police and other security personel, later arrivals of Sikhs included the business and professionals classes. The religion is based on the concept of there being only one formless God and, as a result, idol worship is banned. there are Sikhs Temples, or Gurdwars, sited all over Melaka.