Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Chinese New Year celebrations

Chinese New Year is one time of the year when we come together, with family and friends. It is also the time we remember our ancestors and our departed loved ones. And yes, our Gods too.

So, through this Chinese New Year period, up this little hillock, known to many of the old aunties and uncles as Ku Ah Sua or Ku Kia Sua (Gui Zai Shan), at Chia Leng Kong Heng Kang Tian, devotees and residents around this hillock came up the hill to pay respects to Xuan Tian Shang Di and the resident Gods.

For the kids, it was always fun to watch the lions prance and the dragons twirl, especially given that the space here is small, where they needed more skills to maneuver around. It was to the kids' delight when the lions sprayed out sweets. The little kids learn not to be afraid of the lions. With the lions coming almost everyday, the kids got bolder.

On the CNY eve, a number of devotees turned up to welcome the new year, led by the Taoist Priests. Some of them were captured and reported in the Straits Times on 5 Feb 11 edition. It was a first time, after the renovation and restoration of the temple, for the welcoming of the new year. Next year, when we gather again to welcome the Dragon year, more devotees will be present.

On the night of the second day, words went out that Tua Ya Pek would be coming. He comes no more than three times a year. And so, before his arrival, a queue was already formed. His devotees were very keen to offer him New Year greetings. For each who greeted him, he had some kind words for them, advising them what they might encounter in the year of the Rabbit.

On the fourth night of the New Year, Zaizai (Shan Cai Tong Zi) came to unwrap the seals (which were wrapped up on the last day of bang-gong - consultations - in the Tiger Year). He was also greeted by many of his fans (read devotees) and again for each, they got their advice. But as was a tradition, before the new year greeting, Zaizai had a very important item on his agenda. To share with his devotees his outlook of the world in the year of the Rabbit. All ears, and for some, armed with pen and paper, tape recorder and even a video camera, the devotees listened to his "cheem"(deep) Hokkien prediction of what would happen in all the eight directions - East, South, West, North (read in Chinese and it would be easier to know the flow of the directions), and then, South East & South West and North East and North West.

The year of the Rabbit does not look rosy but there are also silver linings for some.

On the fifth night, it was the birthday of Cai Shen (God of Wealth). The hill top was filled with people as they followed the Taoist Priests through the rituals to celebrate the birthday. Candle of each miniature Cai Shen shrine (with the Cai Shen figurine sitting on a plate with two oranges and a packet of rice) was lit, according to the tradition of transfer of light from the Cai Shen oil lamp.

After the rituals, devotees were invited to "borrow" money from Cai Sheng to bring back to "grow" the money. Each would put in money (to each his/her own wish) and from the basket take out a coin, which was to be spent after three days. Each would also invite a small Cai Shen figurine back, to be seated in the north-west part of the living room, facing south-east. The growing of the Cai Shen's money is known as Mu Zi Qian (Mother Child Money, meaning how from the mother coin, many children coins are produced).

You could see happy and radiant faces as the devotees invited the Cai Shen back to their homes. To the Chinese, this is to ensure that the rice bin is always full and that there's enough money to live fairly comfortably. It was not intended for massive material gain as some might thought. (^^)

1 comment:

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