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Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Traditionally, after the wedding ceremony, the newlyweds serve tea (holding the teacups with both hands), inviting the groom’s elders to drink tea by addressing them by formal title, e.g. eldest brother or third sister.

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The general rule is to have the woman on the left side and the man on the right side. The people being served will sit in chairs. During olden times the groom and bride will kneel, but nowadays most do them standing up.

The newlyweds serve tea in order, starting with the groom’s parents then proceeding from the oldest family members to the youngest, e.g. the groom’s parents, his oldest uncle and auntie, then to his brothers and sisters.

The bride serving tea to the groom’s mother.

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Serving tea to the groom’s eldest brother.

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The groom’s eldest sister.

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In return, the newlyweds receive lucky red envelopes/packets (“lai see” which means lucky) stuffed with money or jewelry. The helpers, who are usually women blessed with a happy marriage or wealth and chosen by  the fortune teller or groom’s mother, also get lucky red envelopes/packet stuffed with money from those being served. These envelopes are placed on the platter which holds the teacups.

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With this ends the wedding ceremony according to chinese customs.

 

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Last week I took a leave from work to attend and help my girlfriend’s family in the preparation of her youngest uncle wedding. I took a few pictures here and there before at the end of the day, I was one of the drivers for the elderly parents and some relatives to the wedding dinner at Sea View Restaurant.

 

I thought I was early when I arrived at her house at 7:30 a.m. But I was kinda late since most of the relatives as well as the groom’s ‘brothers’ were already there. The groom’s entourage were getting ready and planning to go to the bride’s house to fetch her. They were seen whispering among themselves about how to counter-attack the hurdles that they are going to face later.

 

When they have decided how to go about that, they took off.

 

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While the groom was away, the house was a buzz of activity, refreshments were prepared and taken out. This is to let the guests have something to eat while the couple go through some customary rites during the ceremony.

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This pair of candles are known as the dragon and phoenix candles. They always come in pairs and are decorated one with a dragon and the other with a phoenix, as well as the double happiness symbol. In olden days, these traditional candles would be lit in the bridal chamber on the wedding night with the intention to drive away evil spirits.

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The happy parents (my girlfriend’s grandfather and grandmother) of the youngest uncle waiting for the arrival of the couple, both looking rather handsome and pretty in their new clothes.

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Some of the relatives lingering at the front entrance waiting for the arrival of the couple.

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And then we heard, the car horns honking on the street signifying the arrival of the groom and the bride. According to Chinese customs, the groom must not open the car door when he arrives with the bride. Since this is the youngest uncles, the nephew was given the chance to open the door. He must pass two oranges to the bride before opening the door. The two oranges will be left in the bridal car for good fortune.

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The groom then escorted the bride to the house to offer some prayers.

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The chinese were mainly Taoists or ancestor worshipers before foreign religions such as Christianity, Muslim or Buddhism enter China. Taoists believed in the power of heaven and earth to witness important events on earth. It was also believed that a parent or family elder must acknowledge a union for it to be official.

 

In traditional chinese wedding ceremony the bride and groom will first pray to heaven and earth, then to the groom parents or family elders and lastly bow to each other 一拜天地,二拜高堂,夫妻交拜. The three prayers sealed the marriage. The couple was escorted into the bridal chamber, the equivalent of the bridal room, to consummate their marriage.

 

Modern chinese wedding skip the ritual of the three prayers. The bride and groom will enter the bridal room directly after entering the groom’s home. Groom’s family members will hide in the house to avoid clashing of fortune with the new couple. After the family members have returned to the family hall, the couple will join them.

The couple in the bridal room.

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The couple are served some sweet dessert consisting of two eggs and some other stuff which I forgot to ask what it was, this is suppose to symbolize unity and happiness for the newlyweds.

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Traditionally, the bride’s home visit is three days after the chinese wedding ceremony. For efficiency, modern chinese wedding usually compressed all the necessary events into a single day.

The newlyweds leaving the groom’s house to their new house.

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The arrival of the couple at their new home.

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Both of them holding miniature lights to signify something (happiness??) looking rather happy about the whole settings and the smooth ceremony.

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The pair of cute teddies sitting in front of the bridal car. Watch out for Part 2 coming soon.

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Mid Autumn Festival

The Mid Autumn Festival also known as the Moon Festival is a popular East Asian celebration of abundance and togetherness, dating back 3,000 years to China’s Zhou Dynasty. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or “Mooncake Festival”, which is just the same as “Mid-Autumn Festival” but with different names.

The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar), a date that parallels the Autumn Equinox of the solar calendar. This is the ideal time, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, to celebrate the abundance of the summer’s harvest.

I celebrated this festival at my girlfriend’s house with a few of her family members and friends. You can see the different kinds of paper lanterns waiting to be lit.

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My girlfriend’s brother sorting the lanterns, some of it are already too old and missing the wicks.

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Her younger sister and brother’s girlfriend also came to assist or rather just to ‘kepo-kepo’ around.

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While they were busy setting up the lanterns, a few of them were arranging the tables in preparation for the guests that would be coming later.

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The following are the food that were specially ordered and cooked for the festival. First we have the fried meehoon.

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Then we have the mini popiahs …

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Satay or sate (bought from Glutton Square) …

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Ling Kok or Horned Water Chestnut …

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Or Kia or Mini Yams …

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Hay Chee or Prawn Fritters …

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Otak-Otak (bought from Glutton Square) …

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Vegetable Curry …

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Chicken Curry …

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some fruits as dessert …

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and last but not least, not forgetting the main food, MOONCAKES!! (I personally like the pig shaped mooncake).

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After the lanterns were lit, they hung them around the fence to brighten the evening and to create the festival air to it.

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And when we got bored of eating, chatting and lighting lanterns, we decided to relive the lantern walk that we used to do during our childhood days. You can imagine the support as well as the curious stares we got when we ‘patrolled’ the whole of Batu Pahat Garden while carrying lanterns.

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The slow but steady walk along the streets.

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This is another temple where tourists comes during the weekends to pray for good fortune and ask for lucky numbers. It’s located at Jalan Shahbandar (the road where Glutton Square is at) and its exactly the junction turning into Taman Pantai. This is the main entrance of the temple.

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There are 2 hard-not-to-miss guardian stone lions sitting on each side of the entrance. This is one of the lions.

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There are ample of parking space outside the temple, the first thing you are going to see are the lines of tourist buses parked and the numerous outstation cars parked around and inside the temple.

You will notice these lanterns when you enter through the main entrance. Below the lanterns you will see strips of papers, people write out their wishes and attached them to the lantern, hoping that it will come true.

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You will notice this well somewhere near the deity praying altars. It is said that the water has been blessed by the dragon king and whoever that washes with it will have good blessings by the god.

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Some of the other attractions in this temple include this steel bridge, which says that when you cross it, something good will happen to you daily and yearly. (Mandarin illiterate here, translators needed).

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At the end of the bridge you will see this golden statue of ‘Tua Pek Kong’.

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There are instructions like where you touch the deity, you will be blessed with certain fortune, I have taken a close up picture of the instructions.

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My curiosity nature got to me when I saw this creature.

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It’s a “Long Kui” aka Dragon Tortoise. This is the front view of it.

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And a side view of the statue.

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There is also a white (albino) crocodile beside this dragon tortoise, what it does I do not know.

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These round shaped turntables represent the gaming industry in Malaysia and Singapore. You can see they are categorized to Toto, Magnum 4D, 1+3 Damacai and Singapore 4D. You need to make a small donation beneath the white turny thingie and then take a spin at it.

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This flotable platform is where the temple people do their rites when the festival day arrives. (Don’t ask me when, I don’t know).

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The dragon king deity himself …

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and his minions, the Turtle General …

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and the Shrimp General.

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There is also this bronze made heavy looking nicely crafted plaque near the altar.

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There is a small hill within the temple grounds, when you climb up it, you will see this nice tibetan looking bell.

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This is a general overview of the temple with all the attractions I have just stated.

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There is a souvenir stand in the temple for people to buy some trinkets back home to their loved ones.

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Author’s Note: I did not go into detail about the lucky numbers part. You have to buy a pineapple there, put your lucky numbers to it, then walk to the Tua Pek Kong deity within the temple and then chant with the medium, bring the pineapple home and pray your number comes out.

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Most people go to temples to pray for good health, fortune and blessings for family members or close friends. This temple in particular caters to the fortune part. On weekends you can usually see busloads of tourists coming to this temple, not only singaporeans but aunties from other malaysian states as well. All of them come here just to ‘stroke the lucky fishes’ found in this temple.

The picture below show the crowd surrounding one such pools in the temple.

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More people jostling for a place to get near the fishes. So what kind of fishes are they, gold fishes, arowana, flower horn?

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Nope, none of the above are correct, the tourists are there to touch the arapaimas. Native to South American rivers, these fishes can grow up to 3 metres long. This particular pool houses between 4-5 of such fishes but these are small ones. There is another pool above this temple which houses the giants, but I did not take the pictures there, too crowded and obnoxious aunties trying to touch the fishes and then parking there, not moving, such selfish people.

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See the auntie in white Tee, still there when I took this picture in another angle.

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Some of the nice deity statues and the dragon king’s minions around the temple.

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Tha main altar of the dragon king facing the Straits of Malacca. Segenting Village is primarily a fishing village, the villagers here pray to the dragon king for safety at sea and a bountiful catch before they set out to sea.

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You can see this set of tortoise and turtle statuette with a pineapple on their back beside this altar. Some people pray to them for longevity, whereas some if they cannot touch the fishes would just hug the golden pineapple for good luck.

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The mundane and tranquility scene around the temple, the main fishing village.

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This is one of the longest jetty in this village. Its also known as the ‘Lovers Bridge’. There was a time when a lot of couples dated on this bridge and thats how it got the name. Not safe to go at night, might get robbed. But a lot of anglers still do fish at this jetty.

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The only island off the coast of Batu Pahat, Pulau Sialu. History has it that this used to be a prison for offenders long ago before colonization. Offenders are simply sent off to this island to serve their sentence. Plenty of fishes around here, so food ain’t a problem. There is a small lighthouse on this island but its no longer functional.

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Edit: A fellow blogger and friend from Singapore came to visit me 2 weeks ago, her name is Catherine or in blogger’s world, Princess Lana Janelle. She has also posted her encounters in the temple in her blog. Do go and visit it here, Princess Lana trip to Batu Pahat.

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9 May 2007 was the birthday of Mazu (23rd of 3rd Lunar Month), more popularly known to the local grannies as Ma Chor Po in Hokkien. And Tian Hock Keng was more commonly known then as Ma Chor Keng. The more common officially known name of Mazu is Tian Hou Niang Niang, one of the many titles bestowed on him by the emperors of China. I did not attend the actual day because of crowd and since it was a week long celebration, I chose the last day to take these pictures.

Legend has it that it would rain on Ma Chor birthday, and guess what it really did, there was a heavy downpour on that day.

This is a view of the temple taken from front, sorry for the distant view cause some people said its not nice to take pictures of deities.

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A side view close up of the temple, there is a side door for kids especially to see the tortoises in their containment at the back of the temple.

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This is the tortoise containment area. Some people said these tortoises were sent here by the public who found them on the road, drains, houses and gardens. These reptiles will then be sent here and released when there is a festival. You can see some coins in the picture, as some believe its okay to wish for longevity from these creatures.

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Hey look, a round shaped tortoise. Freak from nature.

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To liven up the celebrations a local opera troupe was employed to entertain the deity. We don’t get to see these nowadays as only the older folks understand whats the dialogue all about because most often dialects are used.

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A celebration, free opera show and what else, oh yeah food. But food for this event is kinda limited, I only saw a few stalls there. There is this one stall that sells Tapioca Crackers (Keropok Ubi). These crackers seem to have made a comeback. During my childhood days I usually get these on Hungry Ghost Festival, buy them, then sit comfortable on the grass and watch those free wayangs.

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An apam (pancake) baking in session at one of the stalls. These are baked over an open oven, then the owner will turn the pan around to make the pancake be evenly cooked. Usually the main ingredients are sugar and blended peanuts (some version has sweet corn in it). It takes about 5 minutes to cook one. This is the small version of the pancake, there is another stall in Batu Pahat selling the big ones.

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Last but not least the fried food. You select these food and then pass them to the owner, he will then fry them up and give you back your selection with their chili paste. This sticks are usually colored to show customers that they are priced differently. No color sticks = RM1.50, green color sticks = RM1.20 while red color sticks are RM1.60.

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