A FIGHT erupted while residents were patiently seated outside their homes in Beach Street, Penang, waiting to witness a cultural procession themed The Wonders of Jin Dynasty.
As they rushed forward to see what the commotion was all about, the sight of a husband and wife duelling with long wooden poles met their eyes.
The couple accused each other of infidelity and other misconducts loudly in Hokkien, accompanied by the 'thunk!' of wood as the couple fought.
This was no ordinary marital spat but a show put on by performers taking on the role of Bong Bai Hneah and Bong Bai Soh – the famed “squabbling couple” usually featured in chingay processions of yesteryear.
For the most part of the 3.5km procession, the couple shouted and hurled insults at each other, sometimes travelling in separate trishaws and sometimes on foot.
The procession, which was part of the 12th World Cheah Conference, started off at the entrance to the Cheah Kongsi in Armenian Street despite a drizzle.
At the head of the procession were the national and state flags, followed by a banner proclaiming Daulat Tuanku as a mark of respect in light of that the procession was held on the night of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s birthday.
This was followed by a banner announcing the three-day conference starting June 3 jointly organised by the Penang Cheah Si Hock Haw Kong Kongsi and the North Malaya Cheah Si Chong Soo.
The first feature of the procession were chingay flags, accompanied by music from a floral cart.
Immediately after, came four men on stilts wearing costumes depicting the main characters of the Chinese folklore Journey To The West – Sun Wukong the Monkey God, the Buddhist monk Samjang, Chu Pak Kai and Sa Zheng.
The SM Union school band struck up the pace, followed by 1,200 delegates of the conference from China, Hong Kong, the United States, Canada, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Taiwan, and all over Malaysia.
The delegates were led by guest of honour State Tourism Develop-ment Committee chairman Teng Chang Yeow, accompanied by Penang Cheah Kongsi chairman Cheah Cheng Ean and Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi president Tan Sri Khoo Kay Por.
Next came trishaws carrying those delegates who preferred to ride, a dragon dance troupe from the Cheah Association of Kedah, and a lion dance troupe from the Cheah Association of Kuala Lumpur.
At the rear of the procession were four floats – one carrying ‘fairies’ with flowers, a guest participation from the Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, one bearing ‘The Eight Immortals’, and the main float of Cheah Kongsi’s patron deities Xie An and Xie Xuan.
The procession, supported by the state Tourism Development Committee and the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, passed through Beach Street, Chulia Street, Penang Road, Burmah Road, and Perak Road, and ended at Pangkor Road.