Fanning flames of festivity

(Front row) Yeoh (centre), Cheah (third right) and other Hokkien Kongsi trustee members posing for a photograph after the press conference at the Ban Ka Lan Snake Temple in Bayan Lepas, Penang. — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

THE annual flame-watching ceremony and festival to celebrate Chinese New Year will be held at the Ban Ka Lan Snake Temple in Bayan Lepas, Penang, on Saturday or the fifth day of the Lunar Calendar.

Held for the seventh year, the celebrations from 6pm onwards will feature performances and activities such as eight lions performing on stilts and forming a pyramid, special Dragon and Snake dances and warrior drums performance.

There will also be a Chinese Orchestra and Chinese Martial Arts performance on floats, a snake charmer performance, as well as a magic show.

Organising committee chairman Cheah Cheng Ean said there will also be 15 arts and handicrafts booths such as wood carving, stone drawing, lantern making, henna drawing and aeroplane origami among others.

“We will also have workshops for cloth flower making, mask painting and Chinese art made from angpow packets.

“There will be about 50 food stalls set up to cater to everyone’s tastebuds.

“Highlight of the celebrations will be the prediction of the year’s economy by the resident deity of the almost 200-year-old Snake Temple.

“Devotees of the Cheng Chooi Chor Soo Kong deity will be able to know the prediction during the annual flame-watching ceremony,” he said during a press conference at the Snake Temple in Bayan Lepas.

Cheah said the flame-watching ceremony would start at midnight.

“As there is space constraint at the main shrine, the temple committee decided to set up projectors at the temple grounds to broadcast the ceremony live.

“After that, a 10-minute fireworks will be held.

“We are expecting about 30,000 visitors and will close the service road in front of the temple at 4pm,” he said.

State Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage, Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin said the temple was an important cultural tourist point outside of George Town.

“This temple is one of the few places where we can still witness a flame-watching ceremony.

“The state governmentencourages local communities to play a role in conducting cultural events, as it is one of the focal points for our tourism masterplan.

“This Snake Temple will also play a significant part in our cultural tourism,” he said.

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