Mostly virtual events to celebrate Chap Goh Meh

Organisers are going online in presenting the Chap Goh Meh celebration to culminate the Lunar New Year festive season. In this picture, musicians from the True at Melaka Creative Association were performing live during a Chinese New Year festive party that was live-streamed on Facebook.

PETALING JAYA: Today’s Chap Goh Meh or Yuan Xiao, the last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations, will depart from the norm – there will be no traditional tossing of mandarin oranges, public prayers or large-scale celebrations.

But the special occasion will still be celebrated as organisers go online to keep its traditions alive.

Amid the ongoing movement control order, temples and Chinese organisations have decided to go virtual this year.

Federation of Chinese Temples Associations Malaysia president Datuk Chong Kim Cheong said the “Year of the Ox Yuan Xiao Zoom” would go live at 8pm tonight on its Facebook page.

“We have pre-recorded a series of festive and cultural performances. Our committee members from all over the country will go online to celebrate the occasion with the people.“We hope Malaysians can join us and still feel the festive atmosphere online, ” he said when contacted.

Chong, who is also the Johor Chinese Temples Association chairman, called on temples to transform themselves and use the Internet and information technology to offer their services to devotees.

“Each temple can still reach out to its devotees and interact through social media platforms.

“Requests for lighting dragon joss sticks and prayers for blessings or luck can still be done through messaging platforms via online payment methods, ” he added.

Chong said despite the fact that some 70% of temples had to close throughout the various stages of the MCO, these traditions must continue to be preserved.

“It has been a year since the pandemic began. It is high time for us to be active again amid the new normal, ” he added.

Melaka Wushu, Dragon and Lion Dance Association deputy chairman Datuk Wira Gan Tian Loo said it was a state tradition to feature a grand dragon and lion dance performance at the famous Jonker Walk for the annual Yuan Xiao celebration.

“We have been doing this for the past 24 years. After a discussion with the National Security Council, we decided to keep this tradition going in a different way this year by going online, ” said Gan, who is also Melaka Chinese New Year Carnival Committee adviser.

From 7pm today, the virtual show would feature 17 dragon and lion dance troupes, he added.

“There will also be various cultural performances lined up.

“We call on the public to join in the celebration through the Facebook page of PWTNSNM or JonkerFm, ” he said.

For the Perak Kwan Yin Tong Temple (Goddess of Mercy Temple), it will be a quiet affair with no tossing of mandarin oranges this year.

A stream within the temple’s grounds has been the focal point for people to congregate and toss oranges as a symbolic gesture to mark Chap Goh Meh each year.

Temple committee chairman Ho You Meng said the annual activities there usually attracted thousands of visitors.

“Minus the crowd and celebrations this year, the temple’s opening hours will be extended until 10pm for devotees to come and offer their prayers.

“Visitors can also take the opportunity to stroll around and take pictures, ” he said.

In Kuantan, the Wan Fo Tien temple managed by the Pahang Buddhist Association will also be organising several low-key events and programmes to mark the occasion with physical distancing in place.

Association president Datuk Franky Chua Goon Eng said hundreds of lanterns had been put up at the premises to liven up the atmosphere.

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