Festive events draw crowd into heritage enclave

Rousing start: Little dancers carrying gold nuggets entertaining the crowd on the main stage in King Street during the opening of the Chinese New Year Celebration 2015.

PENANGITES’ Chinese New Year Celebration 2015 was a hit with thousands thronging the streets of George Town’s heritage enclave to enjoy the festive atmosphere.

The environment was heightened with Chinese lanterns hung up throughout the area, paper cuttings of auspicious legendary figures and plants, door couplets with characters denoting good luck and auspiciousness and good fortune signs.

Red was the key colour of the decorations and a hot occasion it was as the crowded streets came alive with music and songs filling the air as visitors took in all that were offered.

A special theme song produced for the celebration entitled ‘Bing Cheng Ren Guo Nian’ (Penangites Celebrate Chinese New Year) was aired non-stop after a dance choreographed to the tune was staged at the opening of the event.

The tempo of the merry making continued with street and Chinese cultural shows that included a Chinese orchestra, lion dance on stilts, dragon dance, Chinese Yo-Yo and wushu.

The thundering beats of the 24 seasons drums and war drums pumped up the mood, drowning out the street noise much to the delight of the people.

Booths offering food fare of the various Chinese dialect groups and local delicacies were particularly popular and operators of the 100 plus stalls were kept busy throughout the event.

Visitors also took the opportunity to visit the more than 20 clanhouses and clan temples in the Unesco recognised heritage enclave in Penang.

Traditional arts of yesteryear were exhibited with demonstrations of the dying arts taking centre stage in King Street, Bishop Street, Penang Street, Chulia Street, Armenian Street and Cannon Street.

Chinese calligraphy, 3D paper cutting, bonsai care, handicrafts and other workshops were also available for visitors to get some hands-on experience.

At the Chinese calligraphy stall were Mexican Jennifer Cirswall and Spaniard Blanca Gomez, who were taking their time learning the art.

Gomez, 26, loves Chinese culture and said she was pleased to have a go at Chinese calligraphy.

“This is my first time with a Chinese calligraphy brush and I had successfully written two Chinese characters ‘Hao Yun’, good luck,” she said.

Excitement was also written all over 25-year-old Cirswall’s face.

“The event is simply wonderful. I enjoyed all the dances and performances. I also tried some street food and they were amazing,” she enthused.

Organising chairman Ng Wei Aik, who is also Tanjong MP, said the annual affair had a bigger area ‘to provide a better and more comfortable experience’.

“Previously the event was held mainly at Armenian Street, Acheh Street and Cannon Street, and last year, we shifted the event to the financial district. But the overwhelming response made the streets too crowded.”

He said Penang hopes to make the event, previously known as the Penang Chinese New Year Cultural and Heritage Celebration, a trademark of the state by renaming it Penangites’ Chinese New Year Celebration.

The two-day celebration was organised by the state government and the Penang Chinese Clan Council.

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