PETALING JAYA: The Year of the Ram was heralded in style as goat statues adorned with colourful decorations stood among the 250,000 people that gathered at the national-level Chinese New Year open house in Dataran Petaling Jaya last night.
The statues, which were made out of recycled items, were placed on one of the three stages dedicated for entertainment during the three-hour celebration.
Two giant screens were set up along Jalan Timur and Lorong Utara for the public to watch the celebrations; the lion dance and performances by local artistes.
Locals and foreign tourists, some of them dressed in traditional Chinese costumes, arrived as early as 7pm to enjoy the food and festivities.
At 9.20pm, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Fauziah Tengku Abdul Rashid arrived, ushered by a procession consisting of dancers, a lion dance troupe and participants clad in traditional costumes and dressed as the God of Prosperity.
Accompanying the King and Queen were the Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his wife Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood.
Also present were dignitaries and VIPs like Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong Sik and Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik.
The King was given a giant pen to dot the eyes of a “lion” to mark the launch of the event.
After that, about 100 hot-air lanterns were released while a pair of lions performing in the centre of the field poured mandarin oranges onto the field to symbolise a “shower of gold.”
It then began to rain, causing many people to look for cover.
However, many others stayed put, whisked out their umbrellas and watched the show.
The King also visited the Chinese traditional arts and crafts exhibition and watched a Chinese opera show in front of Amcorp Mall before adjourning for dinner.
The thousands who attended the event helped themselves to food and typical Chinese New Year fare like love letters, kuih bangkit and an assortment of cookies at booths set up at several tents nearby. Thousands of mandarin oranges were also distributed.
Later into the night, the entertainment began with performances by local artists such as Nurul, Ajai, Alleycats, Kong Brothers, Poetic Ammo and Ah Niu.
Loud cheers were heard from the crowd when popular Hong Kong pop star Andy Lau and Taiwanese singer Shino Lin appeared on stage.
A dazzling display of fireworks enthralled the crowd as a perfect cap to the night’s events.
The celebration was one in a series of open houses organised since last year.
The national-level Hari Raya open house was held in Kedah, the Deepavali open house in Seremban and the Christmas Open House in Malacca.
In his speech, Abdul Kadir said the national-level open houses had helped prove that such celebrations could be used to mould a Bangsa Malaysia.
“I am confident that after three years these events were held, we have become more mature and successful in adding joy into the lives of all Malaysians. The ties between us have also been strengthened,” he said.
He added that if all Malaysians took part in the celebrations of the various races, the move towards achieving a national culture and a Malaysian race would be greatly enhanced.
Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo said the Chinese New Year open house proved to the world that different races could be united and Malaysia was a peaceful country to visit.
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