Monday, January 26, 2009

Fifteen days of Lunar New Year celebration

This is my little brother Henry. But he is now the eldest of the Clan in Sarawak because he is a male. In the Confucious patenalistic society, boys come before girls. Even though Rose is the eldest of us lot, she is considered lower than him. Henry's two older brothes are in Australia, so Henry represents them to be the DAI KO, or big brother.
Here is Henry, seated and inviting everyone to eat. We eat communal style. All the dishes are placed on the table. Everyone help themselves to a little morsel. I suspect on this occasion, there are more food in the kitchen.
For us, the Kwong Liangs, we celebrate the Reunion dinner on New yer's eve, NIEN SA MUM, then we have another big feast on the fifteenth, SIUM NG or the Hokkiens ' CHAP GOH MIE. These re the two big occasions.
When I went to Singapore, I found out that the Cantonese also celebrate the 7th, which they call the REN or Man kind day. It is the YAN YAT, everyone's birthday. Noodles are eaten to promote longevity and YU SHENG raw fish for success. But nowadays, businessmen have commercialised this YU SHENG, restaurants serve this on their New year's menu weeks before and after  New Year, and they have diners with long chop sticks to LO HEI, and they say good luck phrases as they lift the Raw Fish and other salads and nuts and  seeds.
The Hokkiens also celebrate the 8th, the day  they fled from the foreign Cantonese intruders. They hid in the sugar cane fields. The intruders had ravaged everything so they only have the sugar cane to offer their Gods. That is why on this day, they use sugar cane to worship their god, and display it outside their door. They consider this a more important day than the first day and they tell their offsprings how the sugar cane saved their lives.

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