THE Mid-Autumn Festival may be a Chinese celebration but in Malaysia, it can take on a multicultural kaleidoscope as evident in Pesta Tanglung (Lantern Festival) organised by the Penang Government.
The event was indeed unique as, instead of celebrating it in a Chinese way, different elements from the three main races in the country were blended into the festival.
Besides a Chinese dragon dance performance, there were a Malay kompang performance and Indian traditional dance at the start of the event at the Sunshine Square in Penang on Sunday night.
The 5,000-strong crowd then took part in a lantern parade to the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA), less than 1km away, where they were entertained to a multicultural stage performance.
Three big lanterns in the shape of a traditional Chinese lantern, a pelita (traditional Malay oil lamp) and an Indian oil lamp to symbolise the three main races were carried on palanquins during the parade.
The school band from SMJK Chung Hwa added gusto to the procession with the lively music played by its members.
The crowd itself, with their brightly lit tanglung, comprise a multiracial mix of all ages, reflecting a true Malaysian identity.
Rosnani Jusuhi, 33, who dressed her five-year-old daughter Siti Nur Syadaitul Anina in a beautiful red cheongsam, said she was happy to join in the celebration of the festival.
“Look at my child. She is so excited. I am glad to live in a multiracial country with so many interesting festivals,” she said.
Twenty beaming children from Chung Shan Kindergarten were spotted among the crowd, holding a colourful lantern each.
“This is the first time we are participating in the Pesta Tanglung and I am happy to bring my students, especially those from other races to join the parade,” said their teacher, Chong Kwee Mun.
She said the event was a good opportunity to expose children of other races to different cultures and festivals.
“We wanted them to learn to appreciate the traditions of other races,” she said.
The event was aptly themed ‘Tanglung night, Unity night’.
Free paper tanglung were given out to all participants before the parade, led by State Tourism Development and Environment Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow and other VIPs, headed for PISA.
The other VIPs included Deputy Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Wong Kam Hoong, Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zhong) president Datuk Seri Lim Gait Tong, Kebun Bunga assemblyman Quah Kooi Heong, Batu Uban assemblyman Goh Kheng Sneah and Penang municipal councillor Teh Leong Meng.
At PISA, there was an exhibition of attractive lanterns made by participants of a lantern-making competition.
Prizes were given to winners of the five different categories of the competition.