Chingay festival in Penang is back

GEORGE TOWN: The annual Chingay parade in Penang is back with almost double the participants in the procession this year than previous years.

Touted as among biggest street processions within the Unesco World Heritage Site here, a total of 37 groups participated in the procession through the city.

Spectators comprising both locals and foreigners lined along the roads to watch the procession which started from Johor Road next to Padang Brown at about 7pm before finishing in front of the State Legislature Assembly building on Light Street at about 11pm on Saturday (Mar 11).

Accompanying the signature feats of performers balancing gigantic bamboo poles with flags on their head during the procession were performances by lion and dragon dance troupes.

To further showcase Penang's offerings, over 50 stalls and food trucks were set up at the venue.

A celebration then culminated with a fireworks display where thousands of spectators had gathered to witness in Esplanade.

Among those present were Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Penang Tun Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and Penang tourism and creative economy committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin.

Roads such as Jalan Dato Keramat, Jalan Burmah, Jalan Transfer, Jalan Sri Bahari, Jalan Penang, Lebuh Chulia, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Lebuh Farquhar and Lebuh Light were closed to traffic for the procession.

The celebration, initially planned on Jan 1, had been postponed to Feb 5 but deferred again due to convergence of two other major festivals - Thaipusam and Chap Goh Meh on that day.

The name 'Chingay' derives from mandarin words which means the 'art of costume' and 'masquerade' in Hokkien dialect.

It was reported that the Chinese in Penang first performed Chingay in 1919 in celebration of the birthday of the Goddess of Mercy organised by Market Traders and other Chinese communities in the city.

They carried the idol of the Goddess of Mercy and 40-feet chingay flags and rounded Georgetown in order to eliminate the 'Plague' which occurred then.

The second Chingay procession was held in 1926 in celebration of the birthday of the God of Prosperity, and the third Chingay procession was held in 1957 to celebrate the centenary of the City Council of George Town.

However, as years went by, the Chingay procession had changed from its original purpose to the promotion of tourism, with it being declared a National Cultural Heritage in 2012.

Today, the art has evolved to become a unique multiracial performance.

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Chingay Festival , Penang , Returns , Unesco ,


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