Filial piety marks CNY end

Wong Yik Kai hugging his mother Vicky Tam.

SERDANG: As Chinese New Year draws to a close, some 150 parents and their children got to experience how the festival should really be celebrated – not just with a bang but with the filial gesture of serving tea.

The traditional tea-serving ceremony held at the Nalanda Buddhist Society, Sri Serdang, saw many – most first-timers – moved to tears by the age-old gesture.

May Tan, 46, who works as a sales specialist in the oil and gas sector, was emotional.

“It’s the moment when you realise your children have grown up.

“I believe every mother will feel the same way if they go through the ceremony,” said the mother-of-three.

Tan’s daughter, Regina Gan, 14, is familiar with the soja ceremony, where she would kneel and serve tea to her parents and grandparents, every Chinese New Year.

Wong Chen Ling (striped shirt) feeding her mother Chen Wei Ping while her father Wong Kim Jun looks on at the Nalanda Buddhist Society in Sri Serdang.

“What I want to tell my parents is: thank you for bringing me up, and I am sorry for the occasions where I have disobeyed you,” she said.

Also present was businessman Ravi Chandra Kumar, 52, who was inspired by the ritual.

“Nowadays, it is rather rare to see children appreciating what their parents do for them.

“I hope they carry on with these values by making sure their children continue the tradition as well,” said the father-of-two.

Apart from serving tea to the parents, children also fed them tang yuan (glutinous rice balls) as well as read out personal messages.

The ceremony ended with a quiz to test how well the children knew their parents and finally, a hug.

The society’s founder Dr Tan Ho Soon pointed out that the tea ceremony was a way for children to understand that the Chinese New Year was not merely “material”.

“It is not just about wearing new clothes and attending reunion dinner. It is about keeping traditions alive and appreciating the essence of such gatherings,” he said.

In Chinese culture, serving tea to someone is deferential.

It is common for children to serve their elders tea during events such as birthdays, weddings and Chinese New Year.

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