Civilisations thrive on customs and culture

Last minute preparations for the big night at Kuala Lumpur’s Thean Hou Temple
Civilisations thrive on customs and culture

KUALA LUMPUR (October 2017): History has proven that civilisations thrive on the survival of customs and culture.

“You lose your customs and culture, you lose your civilisation,” Malaysia-China Silk Road Business Chamber president (Tan Sri) Ong Tee Keat said.

He said that was why his chamber’s focus was not only on trans-border business networking and promotions, customs, culture and arts also featured prominently in its trans-border activities.

“The problems in multi-racial multi-religious environments globally are the conflicts arising from the differences and emotions. Mankind, irrespective of race, religion or creed, must respect each others beliefs, customs, culture and also arts for world peace and civilisations to prevail,” he added.

Ong … You lose your customs and culture, you lose your civilisation
Ong, who is also the first and current serving Federation of Hainan Associations Malaysia, spoke to I Love Malaysia-China Silk Road at a mooncake and lantern festival in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday Oct 4, 2017.

Th festival, organised by the Selangor & Federal Territory Hainan Association, was staged at the Thean Hou Temple.

Ong, who is also the association’s assembly speaker, said: “The Chinese civilisation today is survived by some 1.4 billion in China and millions more ethnic Chinese globally.

“Although there are seven major dialects of the Chinese language in China with hundreds of others, the Chinese communities are kept united by culture, arts and religion.

“And it is thus not surprising for ethic Chinese Malaysians to hold tight to their customs, culture, arts and religion. This Mid-Autumn, mooncake or lantern festival is testimony to our communities’ commitment to preserve our civilisation,” he added.

The customary festival is traced back to the Zhou Dynasty (1046 to 256 BC) and later in the Sui (581-618AD) and Tang (618-907AD) dynasties when social prosperity inspired the custom of moon sacrifice ceremony with August 15th of the Chinese lunar calendar being the fixed date for the festival.

All ready for a huge lantern and mooncake festival at Kuala Lumpur’s Thean Hou Temple
Today, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also known by many names:

> Moon Festival or Harvest Moon Festival, because of the celebration's association with the full moon on this night, as well as the traditions of moon worship and moon gazing;

> Mooncake Festival, because of the popular tradition of eating mooncakes on this occasion;

> Jūng-chāu Jit (中秋節), official name in Cantonese;

> Tết Trung Thu, official name in Vietnamese;

> Zhōngqiū Jié (中秋节), the official name in Mandarin;

> Lantern Festival, a term sometimes used in Singapore and Malaysia, which is not to be confused with the Lantern Festival in China that occurs on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese calendar;

> Reunion Festival, in earlier times, a woman in China took this occasion to visit her parents before returning to celebrate with her husband and his parents; and

> Children's Festival, in Vietnam, because of the emphasis on the celebration of children.

The festival is romantically linked to commemorate Chang E, who in order to protect her beloved husband’s elixir, ate it herself and flew to the moon.

Houyi helplessly looking at his wife Chang'e flying off to the moon after she drank the elixir.

There are also other legends and stories related to this grand Chinese festival. The more well-known ones include Jade Rabbit Pounding Medicine, Wu Gang Chopping Laurel Tree, and Zhu Yuanzhang and the Moon Cake Uprising.

Chang'e the Moon Goddess of Immortality

A customary feature of the festival is for family members to gather and offer sacrifice to the moon, appreciate the bright full moon, eat moon cakes, and express strong yearnings toward family members and friends.

The celebrations include customs like playing lanterns, lantern walks, lantern-making competitions, dragon and lion dances, Chinese drums performances, martial arts displays and sketches, among others.

Here's a selection of video clips and pictures taken at the Thean Hou Temple: (VIDEO: A lion dance to kick off the festival) (VIDEO: A Chinese drums performance) (VIDEO: Ong’s address to festival celebrants) (VIDEO: Launch of the lanterns on stage) (VIDEO: Launch of the lanterns on stage1) (VIDEO: Lantern competition1) (VIDEO: Lantern competition2) (VIDEO: Lantern competition3) (VIDEO:Lantern competition4) (VIDEO: Lantern competition5)