INSTEAD of throwing mandarin oranges into the sea on Chap Goh Meh, guests of The Top@Komtar in Penang managed to do so at the highest wishing pot in Malaysia.
But rather than hoping to find true love with the toss of the fruits, some of them modified the tradition and wrote their wishes on the oranges instead of putting their contact details.
Spotted tossing a mandarin orange into the wishing pot was 38-year-old entrepreneur Eric Ng.
“I brought my wife and her siblings here for a family dinner to mark Chap Goh Meh.
“When I was younger, Gurney Drive was a happening place on the last day of every Chinese New Year for young ladies to throw oranges into the sea.
“I have four children aged between four and 11 years old.
“If they want to try this tradition to meet their better halves when they grow up, I will not mind, ” he said with a smile.
Ng’s wife from Laos, who wished to be known only as Ann, 31, said this was her first experience tossing oranges into water.
“This is something new to me as there is no such culture in my country.
“We do have something similar, where we let go of lanterns with our wishes written on them during the Light Festival, ” she said.
Digital nomad Stiiaan Laubacher, 50, and his fiancee Chantel de Paiva, 35, loved the concept and found the event “cute”.
“People in our country usually meet people through dating apps or at clubs.
“We are excited about the orange-throwing tradition.
“We decided to write down our wishes on the mandarin oranges before tossing them into the wishing well, ” Laubacher said.
The couple from South Africa have been in Malaysia since before the movement control order was implemented last March.
“We love Penang so much that we applied for the Malaysia My Second Home programme.
“There are still a lot of traditions for us to explore and experience, ” he said.
As for executive officer Michelle Sam, 26, she and her friends had fun writing their wishes on the mandarin oranges.
“I came to have dinner with two of my childhood friends as we had not seen each other since the MCO was imposed last year.
“Coincidentally, it is also Chap Goh Meh.
“This is our first try at this tradition and I hope that the wishes we wrote down will come true, ” she said.
The Top@Komtar operations director Kevin Lai said the event was exclusively for their dine-in customers.
“We used to organise a public event for Chap Goh Meh. However, due to the pandemic, the event was only for our customers.
“We made sure that all customers practise the standard operating procedures in a controlled environment.
“Our customers get to throw mandarin oranges into the highest wishing pot in Malaysia.
“For those who could not make it here, they left their wishes on our Facebook page and our staff will help to write them on mandarin oranges before tossing them in the wishing pot, ” he said.
Meanwhile, the usually packed Esplanade where tourists and locals used to toss mandarin oranges during Chap Goh Meh, was now empty — a first in many years.
The state-level Chap Goh Meh celebration was called off this year.
In previous years, it was held at the Esplanade, with hawker stalls and cultural exhibition booths set up to add to the carnival atmosphere.
The annual Chap Goh Meh celebration would typically start in the evening with Babas, Nyonyas and a Dondang Sayang troupe ferried around town on a bus.
Two floats from the State Chinese Penang Association in Perak Road would join in, before a performance and the traditional tossing of oranges into the sea.