Regent of Johor attends Chingay procession to mark end of Chinese New Year celebrations

Regent of Johor Tunku Ismail (left) shaking hands with Johor Baru Tiong-Hua Association president Ho Sow Tong after the latter presented the royal with a painting of a dragon at the Chingay procession main stage in Jalan Wong Ah Fook, Johor Baru on March 1, 2024. -photo by Thomas Yong/The Star

JOHOR BARU: Loud cheers could be heard as Regent of Johor Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim took to the stage to watch the century-old Johor Ancient Temple Chingay procession.

The Regent, wearing a red-coloured shirt, arrived at the Gong Ying stage in Jalan Wong Ah Fook here at around 8.40pm on Friday (March 1) to watch the procession, an iconic event to mark the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations for Johoreans.

Tunku Ismail brought along his daughter Tunku Khalsom Aminah Sofiah and son Johor Raja Muda Tunku Iskandar Abdul Jalil Abu Bakar Ibrahim, who were also dressed in festive colours.

The royals spent more than an hour enjoying cultural performances such as a traditional Chinese dance, lion dance on high stilts and the 24 festive drums performance.

They were also seen smiling and waving at the passing procession, made up of performers, colourful floats and devotees on foot who shouted “Heng ah, ong ah, huat ah!” (good luck, fortune and prosperity) as well as Daulat Tuanku.

Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi, state health and environment committee chairman Ling Tian Soon and China ambassador to Malaysia Ouyang Yujing were among the dignitaries sharing the stage with the Regent.

At the event, Johor Baru Tiong-Hua Association president Ho Sow Tong presented Tunku Ismail with a souvenir, a painting of a dragon, in conjunction with the Year of the Dragon.

Tunku Ismail had previously accompanied his father, Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, to watch the Chingay procession when the Ruler was the guest of honour.

This was his first time attending as the Regent of Johor.

The procession, which started and ended at the Xin Gong Temple in Jalan Ulu Ayer Molek here, moved along an 8km route where devotees also carried the palanquins housing five deities, each from the main dialect clans of Hokkien, Cantonese, Hainan, Hakka and Teochew for an annual “tour” to bless the city and its people.

The Chinese community in Johor Baru celebrates the Chingay Festival from the 19th to the 22nd day of the Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb 27 until March 2 this year.

There is a saying among the locals that the Chingay festival marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations for the community.

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