KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 22): The Chinese New Year (CNY) is being celebrated on a big scale like the “old normal” across the country, finally ending two years of modest festivities in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In KUALA LUMPUR, a Bernama survey at the Guan Di Temple in Chinatown here saw the celebration unfold in a simple but lively order of Buddhists streaming in since early morning to perform religious rituals.
The Year of the Rabbit was soon enhanced by a lion dance troupe, which became the main attraction in conjunction with the CNY celebration at the temple.
A temple worker, Lam Soon Ching, 38, said attendance at the temple for the CNY celebration was satisfactory, after it was closed for two years following the implementation of the Movement Control Order due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In KELANTAN, a drizzle did not stop more than 50 residents to flock to Swee Nyet Keung Temple in Gua Musang for prayers.
Emiline Lew, 30, said the Year of the Rabbit ushered in a lot of excitement because she is able to celebrate it with her family and friends compared to the times during the dreary restrictions of the pandemic.
“The celebration of the festival this time has re-ignited nostalgia because we can resume the tradition of prayers and visiting as a family without any restriction of regulations imposed during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
In KEDAH, Bernama’s survey of several temples around the town of Alor Setar found the Chinese community taking the opportunity to conduct prayer ceremonies with family and kin from as early as 8am.
Tan Eng Ming, 46, said he came to perform the prayer ceremony with 15 members of his family who arrived from Sabah on Saturday (Jan 21) for a family reunion dinner on New Year’s eve at Taman Wira Mergong.
“It’s been a long two years since my sister and brother’s families didn’t return to the village to celebrate (CNY) due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the situation is back to normal, they took the opportunity to unite at my house,” he said.
In TERENGGANU, the Ho Ann Kiong Temple in Kampung Cina, Kuala Terengganu found devotees thronging the temple as early as 7am.
Senior citizen Lee Kok Khan, 60, said he was very excited to visit the temple on Sunday (Jan 22) morning to reunite with old friends, as this year was no longer bound by the standard operating procedures.
In PERAK, the Ling Sen Tong Temple, in Ipoh, welcomed devotees as early as 7am to perform prayer rituals in conjunction with CNY.
One of them, requesting to be identified only as Pang, 20, said she was happy to be able to attend the temple with her family for prayers without physical distancing and strict SOPs like when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.
In PERLIS, the average Chinese community took the opportunity to pray at Poh Aun Keong Temple in Kangar, in the hope that in this Year of the Rabbit, the country will continue to be harmonious.
In JOHOR, Menteri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi joined some 500 people of various races and religions to attend a Friendship and Goodwill Ceremony to usher in the Lunar New Year at Wisma Tionghua in Taman Sri Tebrau.
The event, organised by the Johor Bahru Chinese Federation, was enlivened with a thunderous performance of drumming, Chinese community dance, calligraphy and wushu, while guests mingled and gathered at round tables to toss Yee Sang for good luck.
In SELANGOR, about 10,000 Buddhists are expected to visit the Kwan Imm Temple in Klang this year.
Its president Hong Shaw Lim told Bernama that it has become an annual tradition for Buddhists to pray at the temple during CNY, with the flow of devotees beginning from 8am.
In NEGERI SEMBILAN, the Chinese community thronged the Then Sze Koon Temple at the top of Bukit Wu Gong, Bukit Jung at Jalan Bukit Temiang, in Seremban from 8am, despite the light rain.
Dreamer Yap, 61, expressed her happiness for being able to visit the temple, as well as being able to reunite with her family of four generations and take memorable photos with young and old at the venue of worship.
In MELAKA, the joyous excitement of the celebration was felt, especially by residents of Kampung Baru Machap Umboo in Alor Gajah, which was chosen to host the state-level CNY open house on Monday (Jan 23) night.
State Unity, Information, Human Resources and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Ngwe Hee Sem said the open house is expected to be attended by 5,000 visitors, which will peak with a fireworks display, in addition to a feast of iconic dishes that symbolise the three largest races in Melaka.
In PENANG, the Year of the Rabbit hopped in to a truly festive atmosphere for the Chinese community who took the unfettered opportunity to visit temples and open houses of family and friends.
For Lee Lam Hooi, 34, this year’s Lunar New Year celebration by some eight million Chinese in the country is undeniably more uplifting and cheerful because the Chinese community can organise open houses with no limit on visitors for the next 15 days — until a “last bang” on Chap Goh Meh when maidens throw oranges into the sea to “catch a husband” for a bountiful Year of the Rabbit.