Feeling happy that I was lucky to come across a procession in the late afternoon to mark the start of the Hokkien New Year celebrations in Penang, I was elated to see more fascinating festivities at night at the Clan Jetties area.
As mentioned in previous post, the Hokkien New Year or Jade Emperor’s Birthday is celebrated on the eighth day of the Lunar New Year. According to traditional beliefs, the Hokkiens in China were oppressed by evil forces and didn’t have the opportunity to celebrate the new year for a long time until one year, on the eighth day of the Lunar New Year, the Jade Emperor of Heaven came at midnight and liberated them. In Taoist religion, the Jade Emperor is regarded as the supreme deity.
To commemorate the liberation, the Hokkien-Chinese in Malaysia perform rituals known as “Pai Thee Kong” which means “worshipping the Jade Emperor” as thanksgiving for being able to celebrate the new year. To thank the deity, food is served to him and that ritual is symbolised by laying food on a table draped in red tablecloth. Some of the popular food items are sweet cakes, prosperity cakes, tortoise-shaped buns, pink rice flour buns, fruits and roasted suckling pigs.
The celebrations at Clan Jetties started from 7pm till midnight, and boy, it was grand. Rows of tables were lined up on one side of the road for devotees to place their offerings of food. There were performances to entertain the public – Chinese classical music, Chinese New Year songs, lion dances and chingay acrobatic stunts – all at the same time!
Here are some of the photos I took of the celebrations:
And here’s a short video of chingay acrobatic stunts..Chingay is street art where the performer balances a giant flag (on the forehead and sometimes on the mouth), and is mainly performed in celebration with the birthdays of Chinese deities as part of Chinese New Year festivities. Today, Chingay is not only performed by the Chinese in Malaysia & Singapore but by other ethnic groups too, thus becoming a unique multi-racial performance.
To end the celebrations with a big bang, fireworks and firecrackers were lit at midnight to welcome the New Year!
If you’re interested to see the festivities of Hokkien New Year in Penang, then time your visit by 15 February 2016 🙂