The Chinese New Year is an important holiday in Southeast Asian countries like China, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Korea, etc. The festival is 15 days long, and people celebrate it with fervour while enjoying traditional delicacies and praying to their deities and ancestors. While each day has a different significance, the 15th and the last day of the festival is known as Chap Goh Mei.
Celebrating the Chinese New Year is symbolic of welcoming the new and positive while letting go of the old and negative.
You may be interested in reading – Celebrating Chinese New Year in Malaysia
The Origin of Chap Goh Mei
Behind the Chap Goh Mei festival is a folk tale about a beautiful crane that descended from heaven on earth and was slaughtered by a group of villagers.
The Jade Emperor was furious at the death of his favourite crane and pledged to teach the villagers a lesson by burning down their houses and village on the 15th day of the Lunar Year. The villagers were informed about the Jade Emperor’s plan by his daughter, and to escape the fire, the villagers hung red lanterns and lit fires and fireworks on the 14th, 15th and 16th days of the Lunar New Year.
When the troops who were supposed to burn down the village descended from heaven, they saw everything already burning and left without doing any harm. Even today, on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year, people burst firecrackers and light lanterns.
The Special Events of Chap Goh Mei
Mandarin Throwing Event
Chap Goh Mei is similar to Valentine’s Day as many young women go out in search of love on this day. Earlier, women were allowed to go out only on the last day of the Chinese New Year. So, many prospective grooms would wait to see them.
According to older traditions, the women would throw a mandarin into the sea with their name on it, and young men would try to catch them. This event is quite exciting and is still looked forward to by all the youngsters. It is said that the mandarins have to be thrown in the southeast direction since it is the direction of the happiness star.
With the advancement of technology, dating has moved on to phone calls and apps, but it is good to see people still holding on to traditions like the Mandarin throwing. Nowadays, many shopkeepers collect the mandarins that have unmarried women’s names and phone numbers and sell them to young boys in their shops.
Apart from the mandarin throwing, there is also a tradition of releasing beautiful red lanterns. They are a symbol of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace. The lanterns have riddles written on them, and many try to catch the lanterns, solve the puzzles and take them back to the owner in return for gifts and prizes.
Chap Goh Mei is essentially a Festival of Lights, and the Lanterns hold a special significance on that day. This day is a public holiday in Malaysia, and the entire day is packed with festivities. Kuala Lumpur and Penang are famous for the celebration of Chap Goh Mei, and many tourists flock to be a part of the events.
Special Chap Goh Mei Celebrations in Penang
In Penang, special competitions are organised where women throw mandarins into the sea and boys in teams gather them in their boats. In the end, the boats with the maximum number of mandarins are announced as the winners.
Celebrations in the Temples
Apart from traditional events, the temples are also decked up during the Chap Goh Mei. Colourful Lion dances and processions head towards the temples where people drink holy water since it is believed to bring them good luck. Kek Lok Si temple, a famous temple in Penang, is lit up with beautiful red lanterns during the festival. The Thean Hou Temple in Kuala Lumpur gets packed with worshippers. The main deities in the temple are:
- Swei Mei- Waterfront Goddess
- Thean Hou- Sea Goddess
- Kuan Yin- Mercy Goddess
Apart from visiting temples and taking part in the events, people also eat the Tangyuan. It is a ball of rice filled with peanuts, red beans or sesame. It symbolises togetherness and is often eaten at home with family. It is believed to bring harmony and good luck. It is said that having dinner together under one roof brings families closer and strengthen ties.
Tourists looking at getting a glimpse of the festivities on the last day can head to Penang or Kuala Lumpur and be a part of the festival. Some venues that are famous for the Mandarin throwing event are:
- Esplanade- Penang
- Kwang Yin Tong- Ipoh
- Klang Valley- Petaling Jaya
Keeping in mind the current situation of covid-19, it is advisable to follow government guidelines and protocol to have a safe trip.
Malaysia is a well-connected country, and there are several modes of transportation to reach different cities. However, the most affordable and convenient way to get to any place is by bus. The popular bus routes travelled during Chap Goh Mei in Malaysia are:
- Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh
- Johor Bahru to Penang
- Johor Bahru to Klang
- Kuala Lumpur to Penang
- Kuala Lumpur to Melaka
Visitors can book their bus online tickets on redBus easily within minutes.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your tickets today to experience the festivities.
To know about online bus booking in Malay, please visit – Online Tiket Bas