Monday, January 12, 2009

The Lady in the moon

Last night, the water engineer and I went for a long walk. We saw the moon accompanying us as we meandered the suburban roads. The moon was full because it was the 15th of the lunar calender.
The water engineer pointed to me the lady in the moon. This story is told to most Chinese children especially during the Mid Autumn festival or Moon Cake Festival. There are many versions of the story, but I think the children of South China are mostly to be told of this version.  In Mandarin, she is called Change', andin Cantonese Siong Er.
According to legend, there were ten suns/brothers in the sky. They took turns to appear to shine in the sky to give us just the right heat and the light. However, boys will be boys, they became mischievious and decided to come out all together.
This created havoc on earth, and there was drought and the earth was parched. Everything was scorched and all the plants died. The king decreed that anyone who could shoot down nine of the sun would be greatly rewarded.
Many took up the challenged but failed. Out came Houyi, he proved to be a good archer and he shot down nine suns. He threatened the last sun to behave himself or he would also be shot down.  The people were so grateful to him, and soon he usurped the king and made himself the king.
King he was, and greed over took him, and he became a tyrannical one. He became a despot and married the most beautiful woman in the kingdom. This was not enough, he wanted to rule the country for ever and ever. So he sent children to source for an elixir of life. Some say some children went as far as Japan and never to return.
One did find the elixir, but he was intercepted by the beautiful but kind queen, Change'. Change' knew that the country would be hell under King Houyi if he lived for ever and ever. Just as Houyi entered the room, she quickly swallowed the whole vial of elixir.
The King of the Heavens was touched, and he let Change' float to the moon. To stop her from getting lonely, he gave her a pet rabbit.
That is why on a full moon, you will be able to see Change' and her pet rabbit.
Of course,this is fictitious, the notion of CHANGE' PENG YUE translated as Change' goes to the moon. Different cultures have different stories. Just as Snow White and the seven dwarfs, one should not rubbish another culture's fairy tales.
***These two photos were snapped from my bedroom window after my walk.***

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