JOHOR BARU: Hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the annual Chingay festival to mark the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations for Johoreans.
The crowd cheered as Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar arrived at the main stage set up in front of the Komtar JBCC shopping complex here at about 8.30pm yesterday.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Tan Sri Mohamed, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin and state Tourism, Domestic Trade and Consumerism Committee chairman Datuk Tee Siew Kiong were among the dignitaries at the event.
The sea of people loudly chanted “Heng ah!” (prosperity) and “Huat ah!” (good fortune) as the deities, lion and dragon dance troupes and beautifully decorated floats passed by the stage.
Star Media Radio Group’s Chinese radio station 988 had an eye-catching float decorated with cherry blossoms and peony blooms, as well as cutouts of dogs in conjunction with the Year of the Dog.
It was among the first floats to be featured during the procession.
Johor Baru Tiong-Hua Association president Datuk Seri Tey Kim Chai said this year’s Chingay festival was crucial for the association, as they had to come up with improved content.
“We are currently trying to achieve Unesco World Heritage status, so the organising committee had to put in more effort than usual,” Tey said in his address to the crowd here.
This year’s procession was streamed live via online platforms.
Besides online news portals, several television stations from China will be making a documentary on the procession, which is expected to reach more than 100 million viewers.
The 148-year-old tradition saw scores of devotees participating in the procession.
In keeping with tradition, deities from the five main Johor clans – Teo Chew, Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese and Hainan – were taken on a 7.8km-long tour on foot to bless the city and its people.