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Wednesday July 7, 2010

Heritage showcase

PENANG’s heritage enclave is set to ‘burst into life’ literally, with the street celebrations held today as part of the month-long George Town Festival 2010.

Themed ‘Streets Come Alive — Unforgettable George Town’, the day-long extravaganza will showcase culture, music and food on the inner city’s historical streets to celebrate the second anniversary of George Town’s listing as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The subtle rumble of excitement was apparent yesterday as organisers rushed to put everything in order for what is touted as one of the city’s biggest festivals.

“Normally, it takes months to put up an event of this size, but our on-the-ground preparations were done in just six weeks,” Penang Town and Country Planning, Housing and Arts Committee chairman Wong Hon Wai told reporters before distributing festival pamphlets to shop owners and the public yesterday.

Welcome to Penang: Trishaw pedaller Tan Bah Loo, 48, explaining the tourist sites to his passengers outside the Yap Kongsi on Armenian Street in George Town. Workers putting up George Town Festival 2010 banners around heritage area.

Festival publicity team member and Anak-Anak Kota programme officer Chen Yoke Pin said many of the heritage zone’s sites and attractions would be open free-of-charge to the public today.

Heritage buildings like Fort Cornwallis, E&O Hotel and Penang Islamic Museum will also be hosting open houses for guests and visitors throughout the day.

Armenian Street will be the festival’s centre for food and handicraft with 24 stalls offering delicacies and artefacts from the country’s varied cultures.

At the Masjid Kapitan Keling, there will be a full-day programme of traditional food, arts and craft demonstrations, mosque tours and a teh tarik display scheduled after 5pm.

Malay heritage performances will be held at the Penang Islamic Museum where traditional arts like boria, ghazal parti, silat and khat will be performed.

A historic showcase on the Acheen Street Mosque will be held along with exhibitions of dispatched gifts, bunga telur and traditional kuih.

It will be open to visitors free-of-charge from 5pm to midnight.

Over at Khoo Kongsi, a Beijing Opera performance featuring acclaimed Iranian-born Chinese Opera performer Ghaffar Pourazar and International Centre for Peking Opera founding member Chie Morimura, will be held at the kongsi at 5pm.

Chen also urged the public to visit the Chinese clan jetties on Weld Quay for free sampan rides.

“The Yeoh Jetty will offer free sampan rides to visitors from 8.30am to 11.30am where they can catch a glimpse of the lives of pre-1970 clan jetty workers in Penang,” she said.

Registration for the George Town Shophouse Trail, scheduled in two batches this morning, and the Heritage ‘Trea-Shaw’ Hunt, planned for 8am today, have already been filled and closed.

Chen, however, said those interested in seeing the resting places of Penang’s famous figures could still join in the Cemetery Tour by the Penang Heritage Trust.

The 45-minute tour, that will be held at 2pm and 3pm today, will take patrons around the Protestant Cemetery on Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. It costs RM20 per person.

Chen said three stage areas would also be set up at Cheah Kongsi, Han Jiang Ancestral Temple and Little India to showcase the music, dances and martial arts talents of various races.

Penang Teochew Association secretary Ch’ng Teng Liang said the Han Jiang Ancestral Temple on Chulia Street would play host to a 50-member troupe playing Teochew traditional gongs and drums at 8pm and 9pm.

Exciting: The Han Jiang Ancestral Temple will host drums performances by a 50-member troupe at 8pm and 9pm today.

“There will also be kung fu and teochew opera performances along with a Shaolin traditional Chinese medicine master, who will provide free medical advice starting at 6pm,” he added.

Over at the Cheah Kongsi, secretary Cheah Swee Huat said they would stage special lion dance performances on high poles at 7.30pm and 9.30pm at their premises on Armenian Street.

Malaysian Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Penang executive secretary R. Sethupandian said the Little India stage would feature groups performing classical Indian dances and music as well as sitar, tablar and nadaswaram (Indian trumpet) and silambam (Indian martial arts) performances starting from 7pm.

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