To the Chinese, the most important festival is Chinese
New Year, which falls in either January or February. It
is ushered in with the lighting of fire crackers at
midnight on the eve of the Chinese Lunar Calendar.
The Chingay Parade is an annual street
parade held in Penang as part of Chinese New Year
festivities, but it's also held in Johor Bahru. The Chingay celebration started in the 19th century. The event
by a European rnissionary and left a vivid description of the 19th
century Chingay. There was a 'Chinese decorated float' for which Penang
became famous with its giant flags processions.
flag is merely a giant triangular flag, between 25-40 feet in height,
made of silk, where, on one side of the flag was fixed to a giant bamboo
pole carried perpendicularly by a stalwart bearer with half-a-dozen
others taking turn.
(field) in Georgetown (Penang) is the venue for most of the island's important events, such as
the Chingay Parade, during the Lunar New Year. In Johor Bahru deities come together in the 150-year old "Rou Fuo
Gu Miao" in Jalan Trus. That's the oldest temple in Johor Bahru.
After coming together
goinf for a 15-km parade around the city. Thousands of people in Johor Bharu
from all walks of life, young and old alike, are lined up in the streets to
watch and participate in this event, which starts in the evening
and ends after midnight.
The Chingay Parade has grown in recent years to become a massive street parade, boasting a stunning array of dancers, street floats, jugglers, percussionists, lion and dragon dancers, clowns and acrobats, among others.
Roads will be closed and traffic will be at a virtual standstill. Public transport will be rerouted and many businesses will close early. Schools will dismiss afternoon sessions early for students to get home quickly, so that they can join the throng who will converge in the heart of the city.
In Hokkien, Chingay (or Chin Gay) means
“real art.” Initially, its performances were only confined to the
birthday celebrations of Chinese deities.
The colourful spectacle of Chinese New Year is evident
long before the day of celebration itself. Eager crowds of shoppers can
be seen searching for all kinds of seasonal delicacies: oranges for good
luck, flowers and kumquat trees to beautify their homes. All debts must
be settled and the house spotlessly cleaned before the new year begins.
On the evening of the New Year, family relationships are
remembered with a special reunion dinner to usher in the New Year.
Younger members of the family visit their relatives, receiving red
packets of lucky money (ang pows) while feasting and merrymaking.
Chingay parade adds to the festive atmosphere with stilt walkers, lion
and dragon dances, acrobats, and dozens of decorated floats
taking to the streets amidst the clashing of cymbals and beating
of gongs and drums. Penang is the place to celebrate the Chinese New Year, but you
can enjoy the Chingay Parade in Johor Bharu also.
Chingay has evolved to be the grandest street parade in Asia
showcasing the rich, vibrant multi-cultural of Malaysia, and the
exotic and exciting cultures from all over the world. The parade features not only the best local and international
performers but also many of Asia's most beautiful and