BUTTERWORTH: A total of 18,000 red lanterns along Jalan Raja Uda here is setting the mood for Chinese New Year.
The lanterns, made of satin decorated with golden tassels at the base, grace this central road from the north near Bagan Ajam to the town centre near Jalan Heng Choon Thian.
This annual tradition began with just 5,000 lanterns when it started eight years ago.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who launched the lighting-up ceremony on Thursday night, said the lanterns had increased over the years through contributions from the private sector.
Several cultural performances were held to entertain the big crowd during the ceremony near SJKC Kwang Hwa. The main sponsors of the red lanterns are Nikaco Holdings Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Chin Poh Chye and businessman Datuk Hong Yeam Wah.
“Last year, 15,000 lanterns were installed at a cost of RM250,000. This year, 18,000 lanterns are costing over RM500,000 due to the increase in labour, transportation and materials.
“It is more expensive but we want Butterworth to be beautiful both for tourists and the balik kampung crowd,” Lim said.
The tradition of hanging up red lanterns began during China’s Qing Dynasty in the 1600s and symbolises joy, fortune and reunion.