GEORGE TOWN: The yearly Chap Goh Meh festivities will be observed this evening with babas, nyonyas and performers of a dondang sayang troupe being ferried on a Hop-On Hop-Off bus for the traditional mandarin orange throwing ceremony at the Esplanade.
Unlike previous celebrations, when the peranakan troop travelled in a regular bus, the group will hop onto an open-top double-decker, part of a fleet of sight-seeing buses introduced on Penang roads in November 2014.
State Chinese (Penang) Association vice-president Lillian Tong, a fifth-generation nyonya, said 74 members of the peranakan community would take part in the event.
“An anthropologist, Julian Davison, of National Geographic Channel and a nyonya maiden will accompany the Chief Minister,” she said at the Pinang Peranakan Mansion yesterday.
The channel will be recording the occasion.
The entourage will proceed to Straits Quay for a performance before ending the programme at Evergreen Laurel Hotel in Gurney Drive for the Chap Goh Meh ball, where there will be a party with ronggeng and joget dance performances, and the playing of keroncong music by a traditional Malay band.
On the orange-throwing ritual, Tong, who is the Pinang Peranakan Mansion museum director, related that in the olden days, young maidens would be escorted by their mothers to seven bridges to toss the fruit on Chap Goh Meh, also Chinese Valentine’s Day.
“At the bridge, they must say in Hokkien tim kam, than ho ang (throw mandarin oranges, you get a good husband).
“Some mothers would also send their sons out to look at the maidens.
“A matchmaker would then be sent to the girl’s family to tell them about the marriage proposal,” she said, adding that the tradition had been practised in Penang for over 100 years.
Tong said a dondang sayang troupe would also go around in bullock carts on the auspicious night to play music and joget.
A check at the Esplanade yesterday found workers rushing to set up the stage for the celebration. Food stalls have also been put up in Jalan Padang Kota Lama.