Showing posts from July, 2010

A Deity's Birthday Bash

Walking the streets in Penang Island in Malaysia would sometimes take you back through time. Once a while, you may bump into people who are dressed up in ancient Chinese costumes. There are many Chinese temples in Penang housing different Chinese deities and they have, as the Chinese put it, their own birthdays which often too, are celebrated with much pomp and fanfare. Giant joss sticks and tons of paper money would be burned and lots of food offered. Then, there would be opera shows in the afternoon and at night too. Before the shows are performed, the performers may dressed up in ancient Chinese costumes to pray to the deities to whom the shows are dedicated. I was lucky to witness such prayers once...

Who do you think is the odd one out?

Green Post: A Mean Animal

Using a White Goat to make toilet tissue? Well, that's possible because White Goat is not just any animal but a machine which could turn 40 sheets of standard A4 office paper and water into one roll of toilet paper in about 30 minutes. The machine which is invented by the Japanese sounds like good news to the eco movement but at a price tag of $100,000, White Goat does sound mean!

Watch White Goat in action!

CNY Flashback: Chinese New Year Aftertaste

I'd have you believe that Chinese New Year ended with a bang with a visit to the magnificent Kek Lok Si Temple in Penang but like all things that end well, you'd have a pleasant aftertaste of what some little things that had transpired along the way which had at first seemed insignificant and you'd have forgotten until you are alone looking back into the past. For Chinese New Year, I'd see the night sky lighted up with fireworks especially during the first day and during the nights when special prayers were conducted and then there were roasted pigs and other goodies that were offered for prayers and paper money being burnt like a Guy Fawke's bonfire and then, there 'd be the occasional unplanned get together with family or friends and this year especially, there was this special dish which we savoured together at Chin Heng's house,yushengor yee sang (鱼生) - this supposedly Teochew-style raw fish salad consisting of strips of raw fish mixed with shredded veg…

CNY Flashback: Temple Fit for a King

There is this 30.2m bronze statue of Kuan Yin that has been completed and open to the public in 2002 which you simply must visit when you are at Kek Lok Si. Located further up the hillside, you can just walk up a tarred road or pay RM 3 for a ride on an inclined lift which woud take you up to where it is. Previously, there was a white plaster Kuan Yin statue here but a fire damaged it which could well be a blessing. Rumours had it that due to some reasons, the original white plaster Kuan Yin was built shorter than it was originally planned and the resulting statue was a bit out of proportion and in fact, looked a bit too fat. The new bronze statue however, was slender and glistened beautifully during Chap Goh Meh. The Kek Lok Si temple has certainly come a long way since its construction which began in 1890. Emperor Guangxu, the Qing emperor who initiated the Hundred Days' Reform and who sanctioned Kek Lok Si's construction by bestowing a tablet and gift of 70,000 volumes of t…

CNY Flashback: A Chinese Touch

If you were to see anything Chinese in the Kek Lok Si Temple or Temple of Supreme Bliss (极乐寺) in Air Itam in Penang, Malaysia, it ought to be the octagonal base of the seven storey main pagoda of the 10,000 Buddhas which was built in 1930. The base is said to have a Chinese design, the middle tier is of Thai design, and the crown is Burmese. Each year, during Chinese New Year, the pagoda and most parts of the temple are lit up and the temple turns into a sort of Disneyland for both tourists and devotees alike. I remember watching the Eiffel Tower lighted up at night in Paris but that was really nothing compared to Kek Lok Si Temple. Here, you would think you are in the Pure Land itself, this celestial realm or pure abode of a buddha or bodhisattva!

For more of Buddhism, visit Dhamma Delights!

Watch Kek Lok Si lighted up during Chinese New Year!

CNY Flashback is ending soon!

CNY Flashback: LIghts up!

The last day of the Chinese New Year celebrations is on the fifteenth day. It is said that in China it is celebrated as Yuan Xiao Festival/Yuánxiāojié (元宵节) or Shang Yuan Festival/Shàngyuánjié (上元节) or Lantern Festival. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is a sort of Valentine's Day: Single women would write their contact number on mandarin oranges and throw them into a river or a lake so that they could be picked up by single men. This year, I heard there was such activities in the Esplanade in Penang. While I was there in Penang during Chap Goh Meh or the fifteenth night, I had however visited the Kek Lok Si temple instead. Each year, for the whole fifteen days of the Chinese New Year, the temple would be lit up at night to add to the festive atmosphere...

Watch Kek Lok Si lit up...

CNY Flashback: A Picture of Togetherness

Some non-Chinese in Malaysia often mistook the eight day of the Chinese New Year as Chap Goh Meh. The latter literally means fifteen night and is not that especially important day where the Hokkiens offer thanksgiving prayers to the Emperor of Heaven comes midnight. History has it that the Hokkiens were saved from slaughter by the enemies during a war when they hid in a sugarcane farm. Besides incense, tea, fruits, roast pig etc, offerings must include sugarcane as to commemorate the event. Paper money will be lit like a bonfire and the prayers would often end with a midnight feast that involves every members in a household. It would be a long night for everyone, pleasant too - not that children are allowed to skip school the next day but the night of feasting with family members presents a beautiful picture of family togetherness...

Can you identify some of the things offered during the prayers at the tick of midnight on the eight day of Chinese New Year?

CNY Flashback: Chinese New Year Ang Pow

Talking about animated cats, most probably you'd think of Jim Davis's Garfield, Hanna Barbera's Tom and yes, the Japanese cat without the mouth and which speaks from the heart, Hello Kitty. In the 80s, Hello Kitty became very popular with young schoolgirls all over the world and famous personalities like Mariah Carey and Britney Spears have even been photographed with products which had her picture. So, it should not come as a surprise that this Chinese New Year, I came across a Hello Kitty angpow (Inset) , this monetary gift traditionally wrapped in red paper.Cool!

CNY Flashback: Chinese New Year Gifts

Besides oranges, there is a special must have glutinous rice cake for Chinese New Year. Called Nián gāo which literally means Year Cake, it can be eaten all year round but some would believe that it is extremely lucky to eat it during Chinese New Year. The Malays in Malaysia seem to like the cake too and each year during Chinese New Year, Chinese would give both oranges and nian gao to their Malay friends. These seem like the perfect Chinese New Year gifts for them since they are halal, that is food free from pork which the Muslims could safely consume. Giving away gifts then becomes easy!

CNY Flashback: Another Small Town

I suppose you'd know you have stepped into a place with Chinese residents and it's Chinese New Year if you see a plant decorated with red envelopes. Perhaps, decorating a plant this way is a new phenomenon, too for I could not recall if plants have been decorated this way before but never mind - During the recent Chinese New Year, Eng Lye had driven me to Bukit Tambun, this little quaint fishing village in Penang. We had visited Mau Wei who later took us to buy some biscuits in a quaint little shop where the friendly proprietor had offered us an orange each. It was Chinese New Year, remember, and oranges are abundant then. Orange, Kam in Chinese sounds almost like gold and is an auspicous fruit, a must have during Chinese New Year. And in a fishing village like Bukit Tambun where there are numerous seafood restaurants, eating out seems like a must too. Mau Wei took us to a seafood restaurants that night and we invited Cheng Guan and his wife too, whom we later visited. Chinese…