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How shall we organize a traditional Nyonya wedding?  As we love to combine old traditions to present day society and culture, we share some thoughts of some points we consider while preparing the mixed cultural wedding.

You have probably heard the popular wedding tradition saying before, but not every bride to be knows exactly where it originated from or what the meaning behind the saying is. It is a darling saying and is one of the only wedding traditions in today’s society which makes some sense. It is a cute tradition – one which is performed to bring good luck to the newlywed couple.

The traditional saying is: Something old, something new, Something borrowed, something blue. And a silver sixpence in her shoe.

So following the tradition of having something old, my daughter choose to wear a hundred years old Nyonya red gown for her mixed cultural wedding, kind of like a link to the mother who she loves.  There are many things you can use as theme to rekindle “something old for your wedding.

And for something new, which means optimism and hope for the future. It sends the message that both the newly weds are creating a new union that will endure the test of time. Many brides choose to use a red wedding sari or bridal gown, flowers or rings to symbolize the “something new” in this tradition.

Something Borrowed, for that if you borrow an item from your happily married grandmother or mother, you can fulfill both of these meanings. Uvaraani chooses an hundred’s years old Sapu tangan Nyonya (Nyonya handkerchief) to wrap around the coconut she took to her new house on her wedding day. Doing this lets your parents (or grandparents) know that you admire their marriage and the respect they have for each other and that you hope to have an equally happy marriage.

Something Blue: The color blue has been connected to weddings for centuries as a symbol of love, modesty, fidelity, good luck, purity and loyalty. Many brides incorporate this color into their clothing, by either wearing a blue stoned jewelry item or wearing a blue garter. However for a modern spin, you could use blue toe nail polish, blue eye shadow, a blue ribbon tied into your flowers, blue underwear, even wear light blue shoes! The possibilities are endless and limited only by your imagination.

A Lucky Sixpence: A sixpence in the bride’s shoe represents wealth and financial security. For optimum fortune, the sixpence should be worn in the left shoe. What I did as her mother, without her knowing was places an old coin in her coconut she carries. An old wives tale mention that both couple wont hide their wealth from each other.

As for Jivan and Uvaraani, honoring the something old, new borrowed, blue tradition by having a Muhibbah Nyonya and Indian Wedding seems an unforgettable day. Although some items are supposed to bring good luck to the bride, they are

following this tradition to honor people close to them on their wedding day.

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Another year is here, so may I wish you a Happy Awesome and fanstatic New Year 2008!!!

January is an exciting month for us Penang people as the Thaipusam festival is here again. Last year was my first year as I went around four full days with Chandra, my Indian hubby. We met lots of people and foreigners and every one wanted to know what is going on. So our days were spent meeting new friends, having them together with us as they were so awe inspired and fascinated by this festival

Read our experience last year.

This year we are organising a tour to help those interested. From early morning before the real Thaipusam day till the second day evening. The pictures both taken day and night adds to your memory. It is defitenely as kick ass lifetime experience for many who were with us last year.

Some said it is amazing what people do to fulfill their wishes. As for me, I only know taking pictures without really watching cos I was scared and cannot bear seeing the big hooks. In some instance, our new found friends were in tears seeing them in spears, hooks hanging on their faces and back. Join our tour this year. And learn form Chandra an insider propsective of Thaipusam.

 

 

Nestled on the Paya Terubong Hills, in some quiet little spot sits a very old 130 Taoist temple called Cheng Kon Sze.

Peaceful Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

Junnie reaching the 1002 Steps Temple

A simple untapped temple worshiped by the silent or quiet few Taoist devout devotees. During the Nine Emperor Gods Festival, Catherine rang me to inquire whether I would be interested to go up to 1002 Steps Temple or locals called it, Cheng Ji Chan.

1002 Steps Temple Penang

Peter (half body) and Junnie (half face) and Chandra looking down,wishing he gets permission to walk more as he waited for us. Sorry guys!

What do you think, I jumped with joy as I have not yet gone up to Cheng Jee Chan or Cheng Kon Sze in my life.With Peter (pulau-pangkor.com) as our guest as he wanted to learn more about Chinese custom and traditions, he gladly tagged along.

Central Penang view from 1002 Steps

Beautiful Penang, view from 1002 Steps Temple (look how far Komtar seems to be)

For Chandra’s sake as he is recuperating from a recent heart attack, all of us took the super cool van up the temple. So Catherine, Catherine’s mum, Steffi, Chandra,Ben Khaw ( not in any pictures as he wanders off to take his own), my sister Junnie and me, the ever happy to go anywhere person and not forgetting the crazy white man from Holland ( the web master of pulau-pangkor.com) got up to Cheng Kon Sze. Just joking, he is actually funny guy!

Hilltop in Cheng Kon Sze Temple

Hill top view at the greenery and natural vegetation of Cheng Kon Sze Temple

How pleased and thrilled we were when the van driver stopped to let us take this awesome shot of Penang. It was a good drive up the Cheng Kon Sze Temple, horning loudly all the way up as if we were some important VIP. But more because the hikers were making their way up on foot.

Apple Custard or Nona in Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

Have you seen this fruit, apple custard or locals called them Nona?

On the way up by foot to 1002 steps temple, my dad used to tell us, never to complain. Never utter the word, “why so far” or “why still have not reached the temple”.

Multi colors cactus plant in Cheng Kon Sze Penang

We see yellow, purple, red and green flower all over this cactus plan t in Cheng Kon Sze Temple, how awesome!

 

But two ladies have no one to tell them and as they complained, they got tired and waved our van driver for help.Seeing how tired and broken these two old ladies were, all of us squeezed tighter into the van to allow both of them in. Despite having a seat, both never stop talking about how far or how tired they were. No wonder..I thought.

Baba pukul Nyonya Plant in Cheng Kon Sze

Baba pukul Nyonya Plant in Cheng Kon Sze Temple

Baba pukul Nyonya plant is a delightful plant, did you know that? It blooms in the early morning in white. By mid afternoon, it turns pink. And in the evening, it is almost purplish. Such a refreshing plant, almost magical.

Taking a breath of fresh air

The Happy Trio taking a breath of FRESH AIR! Sitting on the granite slab, such bliss!

The natural vegetation, the multiple shades of green is a feast for our sore eyes. The fruits tree, flower plants, those I see when I was young makes me feel at home and child like. Huge galangal plant are everywhere. Galangal is still around in my neighborhood but I hardly see Baba pukul Nyonya Plant anymore.

Huge Yellow Candles in Cheng Kon Sze

Catherine praying in Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

Reaching the temple vicinity, we were surprised to see a fair amount of devotees praying, shaking the fortune stick for health or wealth.

Huge Joos Stick in Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

Huge Joss Stick, a common sight in Taoist culture in Penang, Malaysia and Asia

Nice, and I look at the monk sitting on the tiger reminds me of my childhood. This priest or abbot must be Thai Siong Lok Kun, the healer or caretaker of many healer temples. There is even a road along Air Itam market place named after him.

130 year old Bronze urn in Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

The Bronze Urn and Huge Lantern are as old as the temple.

This is the town I grew up. My sister and me used to walk to the market from our home. I remember when we were young, we hated walking for 20 to 30 mins to the market. I do understand why there is a need for modern facilities. I only wish there will be some heritage buildings left to see. But it is going away too fast. This is the very reason I have now over 10,000 pictures. Amateur I may be, still they are my own hard work.Some locals having gone to China now understand that our own hometown Penang is far richer in heritage then China. Every street or town has a story to tell. And I have lots of story to tell as my dad and uncles told us lots when we were young.

God of Education in Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

Observed the statue just behind the joss stick, that is the God of Education, bowed down my humble devotees, says he

As we prayed and watched others, everyone seems so solemn and quietly talking to Nine Emperor God, Dao Mo the mother of Nine Emperor Gods . MMm..there is even the God of Education, so if you want your kids to be intellectuality inclined, come and offer prayer to this God. There are boxes of pencils. What they do is this. Take two pencils, make a prayer then next year come back to return 2 pencils too. But I saw devotees returning more, two boxes or placing cash or kind if they know they wont be returning.

One ticket of fortune Please, in Cheng Kon Sze Temple Penang

What is my fate or fortune, Uncle?

After prayers, most will seek some spiritual guidance. Tai Siong Lok Kun, according to my late father, is revered for answering or granting wishes. This one thousand and two hundred steps, supposedly should be one thousand and two steps. Not two hundred but somehow along the way, pronunciation or translation got lost.Seeking spiritual guidanceOn the table near the ticket giver, one can find a round container with fortune or fate stick. No idea what it is called, ( I dont claim I know everything, ok?) Anyway, taking that round container with stick, the devotee will bowed in front of the gods and virtually mutter for guidance. Then shaking the stick and till it jumps out, that is your answer. Take the fortune stick that jumped out to the counter.

Translation of the fortune sheet in Cheng Kon Sze Penang

The all knowing one,Translation of the fortune sheet

Take it to the corner of the temple, claim your fate sheet and look for someone who knows how to read to you. It is written in mythological mandarin so one must understand some chinese legends or myth. With that, the all knowing one will share with you in story form what is in store for you. up to you to translate the result, how about that?

Por Oon Shrine

Por Oon Shrine,(Prays for better luck or fortune from this shrine), funny though i though, letter 5 in chinese character is missing). (But as was advised, it was done purposely long time ago), FENG SHUI I suppose

But sometimes, if they felt it is not a good fate, you will be guided to pray for better fate or luck.

Blessed Meal in Cheng Kon Sze

Great fried Vermiceli, porridge and dessert. A real treat!

What a bliss, it is a small temple. We should be able to come down by half hour, right. But no we were there for a few hours, why. So much to see and while feasting our eyes of the greenery, we had a blessed meal then washed our own plates, chopstick and cups. Again Coffee is BEST!And Cheng Kon Sze Temple, we will come back and soon before someone decide to vacate you too!Remember besides Thaipusam in January or February, in October Nine Emperor Gods festival is celebrated vastly in Penang Butterworth, all of Malaysia and world wide. cheers

The Nine Emperor Gods Festivals, so far is for me an amazing, and out of this world’s experience. You have to be in Penang or Butterworth to witness the ever devout devotees keeping the nine days vegetarian diet. The daily rites and rituals performed by the mediums are unimaginable.

Believe you me, it is REAL! But I am glad it isn’t that extreme then the ones performed in Phuket.

At any time of the day or night, the Nine Human Sovereigns (Tai Chu), will leapt into trance like behavior and accordingly the caretakers of the Tai Chu will clothed them. By the behavior and action of the trance, the caretakers were able to identify the arrival of Tianying, Tianren, Tianzhu, Tianxin, Tianqin, Tianfu, Tianchong, Tianrui and Tianpeng.

Besides that we get to see other so called friends of the Nine Emperors God, Na Cha or Chek Kong came and went. Some are healers so paper talisman will be given to those in deed of help.

Butterworth 9 Emperor Gods Festivals

Many of the rituals and performances does not require an understanding of legends and myth. Many devotees carry out the rituals and rites without knowing that it is related closely to the legends, myths and symbols.

Faith in the beliefs of their ancestors is more important, so as long as they have faith the myths is of little concern. Faith in the power of the Nine Emperor Gods to cure sickness and confer luck, wealth, and long life is sufficient o induce devotees to participate in the rituals. The fact that their ancestors believed and participated in the rituals is evidence enough of its authenticity and efficacy. Myth, therefore, is taken as a matter of faith rather than as a matter of fact.

I had the opportunity to follow the Raja Uda Nine Emperor Gods Temple Festivals closely and was able to understand some of the events that were performed yearly. It was great to hear the explanation in English as the presiding trustee(Lor Chu) was Girlie Chuah, the first English speaking lady. I felt truly blessed. Most times, in my quest to learn more about our cultures and tradition, not many were able to give a clear explanation as they could only explained about it in Mandarin.

During the nine days of the festivals, I saw some feats and performances which quite difficult to explain or comprehend.

Welcoming Ritual

Before the commencement of the 9 days events, there was the welcoming ritual. But first the five generals, their 30,000 to 90,000 armies need to be invited.

Installing the Five Generals

Then Lor Chu Girlie will be led holding the urn under a silken umbrella through a street procession. You wont get to see her holding the urn as she is inside or under the umbrella and 2 flags of the eight trigam by 2 disciples. It was indeed a sacred rituals as, when she moved out form the temple to the special float, all bowed in reverence. Gongs, cymbals and drums are sounded. Listening to it, one can feel the grandeur and style of the occasion.

Once reaching the seaside of Pantai Bersih, it was another night one cannot forget. 3 temple seniors went down to the sea to receive the Nine Emperor Gods. It was evident a moment all bowed down again as the Great One approached.

Welcoming rites at Pantai Bersih

Purification Rituals

Some of the purification rituals of these Taoist festival includes playing with hot oil. The “Tai Chus” in their trance like hour, lights up the fire by first drinking the oil in their mouth and blowing onto the fire. These was performed for a good vigorous hour. i was quite a distance away as the heat was so intense. At first I thought the oil was not hot or boiling. I moved to have a closer look and could not go closer. The heat is real intense. As the oil flows down their body, I see no scars neither on their hands nor body. I wont make any joke of it but seeing those young men earlier not in trance and now in trance completely amazed me. Eyes closed, hands keeps inserting in hot oil to scoop into their mouth, spitting the hot oil from the mouth like dragon spewing fire. An unbelievable hour but it did happen.

Playing with Hot Oil

Herbs and spices were later added to brew for a few hours. Once it cools down, devotees each purchased a bottle for use. It can be use to rub on your tired body or any other body problems. This is how strong the belief the devotees has. Remind me of the days my dad would use these so called oil on us when we were young.

Mediums in hook and spear rod in Nine Emperor Gods Festivals in Butterworth

The next event is even scarier then Thaipusam. If you think Thaipusam is scary, you cannot imagine this! Nine mediums waiting turns to skewered their mouth with a 9 feet spear rod. One even had both done on him, the 9 feet spear rod and 36 hooks on his back. It was really too much for me, I was so scared but am impressed. I remember years ago I did not want to witness this rituals as I was too scared.

Firewalking and crossing the fort is next. Anyway, all these rituals and ceremonies preformed during the Nine Emperor Gods are a kind of purification rituals. They involve the belief the devotees had in the spirit meduims, the Taoist priest and the deities too.

It is in this tableau of eligious ceremonialism that the Festival of the Nine Emperor Gods is
most vividly seen as a community rite of cosmic renewal or rebirth. The ritual leads the community from the state of yin to the state of yang, or as the temple authorities put it, to “birth beyond death.”

As a devotee, observing the vegetarian rituals is not difficult. If one does not cook at home, the temple serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper all free. One temple impresses me greatly as they served a 10 dishes lunch or dinner meal to their vegetarian devotees.

Some even said that they now felt reborn having witnessed the many rituals Nine Emperors and his sub gods have rid them off. Read some live event and explanation, here. As I wondered at the many blessings I too received. I felt truly blessed and revived.

Penang Biggest breaking news

PGCC – Penang Global City Centre or Penang Greedy City Centre?

PGCC is a super hot topic. Most definitely, changes are inevitable. Looks as if the Penang people are still not aware that a mega project is going to happen.

Hearing that there will be another 37 tower blocks coming up in our lovely Penang Island in the next 20 years. I wonder can it take the weight, my tiny little island Penang?

For few months now, talks, public local outcry can be heard. Wonders of amazement how such a mega structure project can get approval without the people’s knowledge. Questions were thrown to all authorities, NGOs working very hard thus the awareness of our beloved Penang island can be keep intact.

Penang Global Citiy Centre

As an insider, I ponder, listen to what my fellow Penangites have to say. I am not being partial to their opinions but after listening to what have been discussed I too felt these question they asked need to be answered.

PGCC

To the outsider who knows nothing about our rich heritage, most are excited that some great is happening. Penang need this but do we really?

Penang Turf Club will be relocated to Batu Kawan, in the mainland 30 mins away from Penang. And then Penang Global City Centre mega structure will be built in the Penang Turf Club, 1930’s recreation plot of land.

Many many questions were raised and not answered. At least, listen and incorporate what the Penang locals feels they would like to maintain is what they are asking.

Penang Global City Center

Quotes from Penang Heritage Trust

It appears we have been misled. Each statement made so far has carefully avoided letting Penang people know that in addition to the TWO TOWERS and the ‘green forest’, what is actually being proposed is a ‘forest’ of 37 (Yes, THIRTY SEVEN) HIGH RISE TOWER BLOCKS, each more than 40 STORIES HIGH, planned for the site. Also being planned are 6,93313,000,000 sq feet of commercial space. (look at the attached images to get an idea of the REAL PGCC – that’s right – 37 slightly shorter KOMTAR’s )

Penang Global City Center Road proposal

Some of the Question posed:

1. How did Open Recreational Space become Development land in the Structure Plan?

2. How did land granted by the State for recreation, at virtually no cost in the 1930’s now be the source of a RM25 billion project for a private developer?

3. Should the State not be given the first right of refusal if the Turf Club wishes to move?

4. How does the developer get a density of nearly 30 units to an acre when surrounding land in the Jesselton area is zoned for 6 units to an acre?

5. How can a project be launched by the PM when it has not yet been approved by the local authorities?

Penang Global City Center

6. How can we Penang people be told that our traffic problems will be solved when we will be stuck in jams, for YEARS, while the flyovers and tunnel are being built at Scotland Road and Batu Gantong?

7. How can this project be launched BEFORE PORR is completed when their own traffic consultants have said that, only with the PORR, can the traffic dispersal system work.

8. Where is the detailed EIA required for a project of this gigantic size? And how did the preliminary EIA get approved so quickly?

9. Does Penang NEED a project like this when we currently already have more than 1,000,000 sq ft of empty commercial space?

10. Can’t low-rise residential homes & much needed green parks be an alternative?

11. Do Penang people WANT a colossal K.L. planned project like this which will change our island beyond anything that we know and love?

Almost 20 years ago, Penang people said an emphatic NO to our hills being destroyed by massive re-development. We claimed our rights as the ordinary man-on-the-street, as citizens, as voters and most of all, as PENANGITES. Is this project actually being foisted on Penang by MONEY, by POWER and by CONNECTIONS? Already many of us lament what Penang has become with the traffic, the pollution and the over-development seemingly approved for the above reasons.

To all of us who love Penang and who have contributed to her well-being, the PCGG is the ultimate assault on her very sanity and that of her citizens.

SPEAK UP to voice your concerns. Well this is some of the lastest breaking news on what is happening on PGCC. Postcards and letters to the Chief Minister were handed out during the Sunday forum in Dewan Sri Pinang.

So I will be off to take some photos of the Penang Turf Club before it is gone.

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