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Chap Goh Mei

The Red Envelope

Chinese New Year, which will fall on 16 February 2018, is celebrated by the Chinese all over the world. It is also known as the Lunar New Year as it is based on the lunar calendar as opposed to the Gregorian calendar in Western countries. In Malaysia, the first two days of the Chinese New Year celebration are public holidays.

2018 is the year of man’s best friend, or the Year of the Dog, according to Chinese astrology. The celebration starts with the new moon on the first day of the Lunar New Year and ends on the full moon, 15 days later. The 15th day of Chinese New Year (or Chap Goh Mei) is observed with a lantern parade in Chinese communities.

The origin of this celebration dates back to early Chinese civilisation 5,000 years ago. The word Nian, which means “year” in Chinese, was originally the name of a ferocious beast that preyed on people on the eve of New Year. To scare Nian away, the people pasted red paper decorations on windows and doors, and set off firecrackers, as Nian was afraid of the colour red, the light of fire and loud noises. Therefore, at the beginning of every year, they repeat these rituals which have been passed down from generation to generation.

Legend also has it that the ancient Chinese asked a lion for help. The lion wounded Nian, but it returned a year later. This time, the lion couldn’t help as it was guarding the emperor’s gate. So, the people used bamboo and cloth to fashion an image of the lion. Two men crawled inside, pranced and roared, and frightened Nian away. This explains the Lion Dance, one of the most impressive sights during Chinese New Year.

The phrase Guo Nian, which may means, “survive the Nian”, is used to mean “Celebrate the (New) Year”. The word Guo in Chinese means “to pass”.  Today, red paper decorations and firecrackers still signify the cheerful Chinese New Year period.


CHINESE NEW YEAR CELEBRATION IN MALAYSIA

The New Year season starts early in the twelfth month of the previous year and lasts until the middle of the first month of the New Year.

In Malaysia, Chinese New Year preparations begin a month before the actual celebration, when the Chinese shop for decorations, food, drinks, new clothing, groceries and titbits. Chinese New Year songs are heard in shopping complexes which attract customers with many seasonal sales and promotions. Chinatown at Petaling Street is an ideal place to experience the excitement of the pre-festive celebration.

It is customary to spring clean the house and symbolically sweep away any trace of bad luck to make way for good luck and fortune. Some families even renovate their houses or give them a new coat of paint. After that, the houses are decorated with paper scrolls bearing verse couplets inscribed with blessings and auspicious words like happiness, longevity, and wealth.

Long before the eve of Chinese New Year, people living far away from their families make their journey home. Traffic jams build up on highways while airports, bus terminals, and train stations are normally packed.

No matter how tiring the journey may be, family members are expected to gather around the table for their Chinese New Year eve reunion dinner, the most important meal of the year. After dinner, they spend the night playing cards, watch TV programmes dedicated to the celebration, or just have a good time catching up with each other.

On the first day of Chinese New Year, ritual homage is offered to ancestors and reverence paid to the gods. New clothes are worn and younger family members greet their elders saying Kong Xi Fatt Chai (Mandarin) or Kong Hei Fatt Choi (Cantonese), meaning “congratulations and prosperity”. The ang pow, a red envelope with cash, is given by married couples to children and unmarried adults.

The seventh day of Chinese New Year is known as “everybody’s birthday”. On this day, the Chinese eat yee sang, a combination of raw fish, pickled ginger, shredded vegetables, lime and various sauces. This meal is supposed to bring prosperity and good fortune to those who eat it.

On the eighth day, the Hokkien-speaking community pray to Tee Kong, the God of Heaven at midnight. On the ninth day, numerous offerings are set out in the forecourt or central courtyard of temples to celebrate the birthday of the Jade Emperor. The 15th day is Chap Goh Mei which marks the official end of Chinese New Year.

During the Chinese New Year period, many Chinese families often receive visitors at home. Relatives and friends, regardless of their race and religion call on one another, exchanging good wishes and gifts like tangerines (called Kam in Cantonese, meaning “Gold”) and other traditional New Year delicacies.

The Chinese New Year open house, like other major celebrations in the country, is also held on a national level to enable all Malaysians and tourists to enjoy the cultural event. The Malaysian open house concept bears testimony to the fact that tolerance and mutual respect prevail in this multi-racial country.
Through the customs and traditions of Chinese New Year, the spirit of peace, good health, happiness and prosperity is engendered and spread among people.

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WANGKANG 2012 ENDS WITH FIERY ENDING

Tuesday February 7, 2012

Wangkang sweeps away evil and people off their feet
By ALLISON LAI
[email protected]

MALACCA: Thousands gathered here to watch the Wangkang or Royal Barge procession that made its way through the streets in the city’s older quarter, symbolically sweeping away all evil forces that threaten to disrupt peace and prosperity.

More than 10,000 devotees and tourists witnessed the procession which began at 7.30am from the Yong Chuan Tian Temple in Banda Hilir in conjunction with Chap Goh Mei yesterday.

The procession, after a lapse of 11 years, saw mediums in a trance parading along decorated carriages while the deity Tee Hoo Ong Yah, the third among five “sworn brothers”, and other deities were carried in their respective sedan chairs.
Lighting up the night: The Wangkang being burnt, accompanied by fireworks, at the Pulau Melaka seafront Monday.

The RM80,000 wooden barge, measuring 5.8m in length, 2.4m in width and 6.1m in height passed through several streets before returning to the temple at about 4pm.

Scores of people also gathered along the roads to catch a glimpse of the barge, with some touching it to ward off bad luck.

The day-long procession caused traffic congestion in Banda Hilir as many holidaymakers also flocked to the tourist area.

In the evening, the barge was dragged from the temple towards the Pulau Melaka seafront and burnt after a prayer ceremony, signifying the sending away of evil spirits.

Yuliya Huang, 32, flew from Indonesia to witness the once-in-a-lifetime event.

“I heard of Wangkang from my Malaysian father, but I have not seen one. So I came here with my parents two days ago,” she said.

For Briton Matt Lewis Haskins, 43, from London, it was the first time he had come across a major event like this.

“The event was colourful and great. I am lucky to have witnessed it,” he said.

Article source: http://tourism-melaka.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default

WANGKANG FESTIVAL 2012

Email    Print 02 February 2012 | last updated at 12:51am
Sending a boatload of evil spirits back to hell

By KELLY KOH LING MIN
MALACCA
[email protected] | 0 comments

Rare procession to rid Malacca of misfortune

A Wangkang organising committee member preparing the wooden boat that will be paraded around the streets of Malacca on Feb 6 to collect evil spirits and negative elements. Pic by Mohd Khairul Helmy
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  IT is not an annual event like  Chinese New Year or  Chap Goh Mei, but the Wangkang Festival is nevertheless important in the Chinese  calendar, especially for the Hokkien community.

  Wangkang is a festival which is believed to have its beginnings 150 years ago and it comes around once in several decades. This is only the fifth time that it is held in Malacca in the form of a boat procession.

  The last three Wangkang festivals took place in 1919, 1933 and 2001, and there are no records on when the first was held in the country.

  The event is aimed at ridding evil spirits in the state and country. It may be a once in a lifetime experience  as it is only held when the medium at the temple gets the command from the heavens.

  The 2012 Wangkang organising committee chairman, Lai Poon Pen, 55, said instructions from the “Heaven God” stated that this year is an unfortunate year as Malacca would be struck by disasters.

  “It was last year when we got this important message, and I was chosen to  carry out the festival.”  

   It is also known as the King Barge Festival and it is a tradition of the Chinese Peranakan, whose ancestors migrated to Malacca from the Hokkien-speaking provinces of China during the colonial era.

   “The idea of having the Wangkang boat procession around  town is to collect evil spirits, wandering souls and other negative elements on the road, and send them away to bring in  health, peace and happiness  to the people of Malacca.

   “The festival starts with the rising of the koh teng, an oil lamp on a 12m bamboo pole,  to send a message to heaven  that an important event will be held soon.

   “As for the boat, we have different names for it each year. In 1919, it was called Lian An, meaning united peace while in 1933, the boat was named Ming An, which means people’s peace. It was Jia An in 2001, meaning Malacca peace, and this year, it is Chuan An which means total peace,” said Lai  at the Yong Chuan Tian Temple in Banda Hilir yesterday.

  He said  the 5.8m-long, 2.5m-wide and 2m-high boat was made of wood by five committee members.

  “The RM80,000 boat will be loaded with rice, water, wine, joss paper, herbs, pots, pans, stoves, and  supplies for the evil spirits  as we believe there should be an equilibrium between heaven, earth and hell.”

  Lai said the Tourism Ministry gave RM10,000 and the state government provided RM15,000 towards the cost of building the boat.

  The rest of the money was collected from the people.

  The Wangkang will be paraded in the streets here on Feb 6 —  the last day of  Chinese New Year which is also Chap Goh Mei —  before being  set ablaze in a bonfire.

Read more: Sending a boatload of evil spirits back to hell – General – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/local/general/sending-a-boatload-of-evil-spirits-back-to-hell-1.40726#ixzz1lDxA289x

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