The Spring Festival – an insight into the festivities of the Chinese New Year
The Chinese observe many festivals, some religious and some secular. The most important celebration however is the Spring Festival, more commonly known today as the Chinese New Year or the Lunar New Year.
According to experts, the Chinese Lunar New Year is the longest chronological record in history, dating from 2600BC, when the Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first cycle of the zodiac. Unlike the Gregorian calendar, the start of the Chinese Lunar Calendar can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. A complete cycle takes 60 years and is made up of five cycles of 12 years each. Because of this, Chinese New Year changes each year, as it falls on the first day of the lunar calendar.
The intriguing tale of deliverance behind the Hokkien New Year
The ninth day of the first lunar calendar is especially significant to the Hokkien people (a subgroup of Chinese). Some traditionalists would even venture as far as to say that it is much more important than the Chinese New Year day itself because on that day, the entire Hokkien clan was spared from being massacred. They believe it was the Jade Emperor, also known as the God of Heaven, who protected them. Thus, it is celebrated with more grandeur especially in Penang compared to the first day of the lunar calendar.
Chap Goh Meh – The Night of Romance
A fascinating Chap Goh Meh legend tells the tale of a lonely young bachelor, who during an outing on this moonlit night, was suddenly enchanted when he caught a glimpse of the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Who was this exquisitely delicate beauty driving by in all her finery, he wondered? With excitement pounding in his heart, the hopeful young man quickly jotted down the number of the car she was in, lest he forgot.
On The Crest Of Prayer - The Thaipusam Story
From the top of the green hill, the endless string of devotees dotting its way up the concrete steps seemed like a sacred procession of silence.
Carrying milk-pots of brass and silver, and harnessed in colourful kavadis, the worshippers inched their way to the great temple overhead with sweet hypnotic resolve. The children, the elders, even the disabled ones, scaled slowly with their ceremonial burdens, ascending with a mission to the call of the good Lord Muruga above.
Remembering loved ones on All Souls' Day
The feast of All Souls' Day is a reminder for us to offer up prayers for the departed, to help them on their journey to heaven. We pray not just for those we know and love but also for “neglected souls”. This is regarded as an act of charity.
Deepavali – Celebrating the Light
Squatting at a corner of King Street amid the human bustle of Penang's Little India, Manickam P. sorts through a giant pile of fresh green banana leaves.
Clad in baggy khaki shorts and a sweat-soaked singlet, he seems to take no notice of either the automobiles that incessantly purr past or the hundreds of human apparitions that mill by him. The elderly odd-job worker certainly has his work cut out for him nowadays.
The Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Penang
How far would you go for your belief – undergo a nine-day vegetarian diet, walk on fire or even pierce a long spear through your cheeks? Or are you an armchair devotee who prefers to remain in your comfort zone and observe from afar? Would the younger generation know what the festival is all about and would youths pause to find out more?
Of lanterns and mooncakes
"The Chinese people have never demanded a clear separation of the worlds of myth and reality – indeed, they are so closely bound up that it is hard to say where one begins and the other ends." – An Introduction to Oriental Mythology, Clio Whittaker et al
"The moon, along with fine wine and beautiful women, is a favourite topic for the Chinese poets." – Chinese proverb
Hungry Ghosts roam the Streets of George Town
Hungry Ghost also known as the Phor Thor festival is an annual month-long celebration observed by the Chinese enclaves not only in Penang but also throughout Malaysia, Singapore and Phuket.
Merdeka – the National Day of Malaysia
In 1956, the then Prime Minister of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj led a delegation to London to hold talks with the British Government concerning independence for Malaya.
The Malayan delegation, comprising of four representatives of the Malay Rulers and four Alliance representatives, convinced the British Government to set a date for independence: 31st August 1957.