Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Lantern Festival ( Chap Goh Meh )




历正月十五元宵节,又称为“上元节”(the Lantern Festival),春灯节,是中国汉族民俗传统节日。正月是农历的元月,古人称夜为“宵”,而十五日又是一年中第一个月圆之夜,所以称正月十五为元宵 节。又称为小正月、元夕或灯节,是春节之后的第一个重要节日。中国幅员辽阔,历史悠久,所以关于元宵节的习俗在全国各地也不尽相同,其中吃元宵、赏花灯、 舞龙、舞狮子等是元宵节几项重要民间习俗。

According to Chinese Calendar, The Lantern Festival (Chap Goh Meh) is celebrated on15th day of First month Chinese Calendar. Also called as "Yuan Xiao Jie" (元宵节) . Local Malaysian prefer to call it "Chap Goh Meh" which is in Hokkien language, "The Fifteenth Night". Lantern Festival is one of the origin custom from China "Han" ethnic traditional festivals. 15th day of first month CNY also remarks the first "Full Moon" (As we knew, chinese calendar is emphasize a lot with the Moon phases). China has large territory and historical festival, so every district have their different custom to celebrate this festival. Few of the important custom like eating Festival Lunch together, watching lantern, dragon dance and lion dance.


My friend Amran asked me whether it's a religion practice or not? As I stated before at my last year article : http://lifemualaf.blogspot.com/2012/01/say-no-to-chinese-new-year.html . Chinese New Year is originally celebration of Chinese Lunisolar Calendar, as stated in Wikipedia

"The Chinese calendar is a lunisolar calendar, incorporating elements of a lunar calendar with those of a solar calendar. It is not exclusive to China, but followed by many other Asian cultures as well. In most of East Asia today, the Gregorian calendar is used for day-to-day activities, but the Chinese calendar is still used for marking holidays such as the Chinese New Year, the Duan Wu festival, and the Mid-Autumn Festival, and in astrology, such as choosing the most auspicious date for a wedding or the opening of a building. Because each month follows one cycle of the moon, it is also used to determine the phases of the moon."

Which means this is noted as 15th day of First Month Chinese Calendar, also the first Full Moon. As for Religion Practice, every ethic like Hokkien, Teo Cheow, Cantonese, Hakka and so on, have their own religion practice to celebrate this festival date. Which is their own way to praise their religions. Every chinese celebrate this festival regardless of which religion follower.



As Muslim, it isn't wrong to join "Chap Goh Meh" festival, as long as we are not join any Religious practice to celebrate with friends and family. One of the interesting Festival game is single lady got the chance to join 抛柑 (throwing China  bitter orange, only imported during Chinese New Year) unto river. You may write down your name and contact number on the orange, then there will be a lot handsome chinese guy scooping oranges with their small boat.

Hey, I just throw "Orange", and this is crazy
But here's my number, so call me maybe~


Throwing Oranges tradition is found at Malaysia only. Kind of like throwing coins into well and make a wish. This is specially for single lady to make a marriage wish. This is slightly inappropriate for Muslim because we asking ideal marriage chance from and only Allah SWT.

And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.

(Surat An-Nūr (The Light) 24:32)



According to The Star Newspaper about orange-tossing, from Full Article Link :

Orange-tossing tradition originates from Hokkien folk in southern China

Universiti Malaya Chinese Studies department lecturer Prof Dr Yam Kah Kean said both would scribble their names and where they are from on the items before tossing them into the water.

However, he said the tradition had evolved to only the women tossing mandarin oranges in Malaysia, which started in the northern parts of Malaysia especially Penang.

“The Hokkien saying is Tin Kam Keh Ho Ang (throw mandarin oranges in the water, you will marry a good husband),” he said.

Yam, who is also an ordained Taoist priest and the Taoist Association of Malaysia president, said the tossing tradition started as women were not allowed to go out in the past.

“They were only allowed to go out on the 15th day of the Chinese New Year.
 “So, they would take the opportunity to meet their future spouses.
 “It was considered a romantic day,” he said.

Yam added that in the religious aspect of the day, for the Taoist, it is the birthday of Tian Guan (Heavenly Official) deity.

“They will pray for prosperity and their wellbeing.
“They will also ask for repentance and confess any wrongdoings,” he said.

 
I chat with my friend via internet platform about Cultural practice and Religion. I tell him it's like how we eat fishes. You can't swallow the whole fish and get choked to death, also can't deny the tasty meat from fried fish and stop eating it. What we can do is enjoy its meat and take out fish bone, which is the tricky part for Muslim deals with Cultural that mixed together with certain religious practice.


Again.... How do you enjoy your fish?




6 comments:

  1. thanks my frenz Ikhwan..semoga Allah merahmati setiap usaha saudara dalam memberi penjelasan dalam setiap isu yg berkaitan agama dan budaya..usaha dakwah saudara dlm blog ini amat saya kagumi dan saya berdoa semoga saudara sekeluarga sentiasa diberkati dan dilindungiNya

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome my frenz.
      Kalao nak jelaskan melalui telefon mungkin kurang tepat, jadi saya tuliskan jawapan di dalam blog saya. Semoga amran dan sekeluarga sentiasa diberkati dan dilindungiNya juga. :)

      Delete
  2. assalamualaikum Mr Ikhwan. I'm half malay and half chinese. So ..i kinda go to the chinese cemetery on Qing Ming festival. from my experience, my chinese relatives will ask me to nod or sometimes bow to the grave to respect the deceased. is that shirik??

    and.. after we return from the cemetery, we are asked to step over a fire.. i don't know what that means but i think it's to get rid of bad luck. i'm quite scared to do that cause i'm not sure if it's allowed in Islam... please answer my questions.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Walaikumsalam. Sis may refer to my previous blogpost here :

      http://lifemualaf.blogspot.com/2012/07/joss-stick-funeral-chinese-tradition.html

      As stated,

      “I used to forbid you from visiting graves, but now you should visit them, for surely they are reminders of next life.”

      (Narrated by Buraidah ibn al -Husai b and collected b y Muslim(Sahih Muslim, (English Trans.), vol. 2, pp. 463- 4 no. 2131), Abu Daawood Sunan Abu Dawud, (English Trans.) vol. 2, p. 919, (no.3229), an-Nasaa’ee. Ahmad and al -Bay haqee.)

      Which is you are permissible to visit chinese cemetery on Qing Ming festival. However bowing down to the grave isn't allowed in Islam, as it may lead to "Praying to the deceased". Nod is still fine as this is a sign of respect without bowing.

      It's kind of tricky when we deal with non-muslim relatives, so the only thing we may do is find a middle way in treat them. What is clearly forbidden is shirik, so there are no compromise in it. However, muslim is still tolerable in cultural issue and take care of relationship.

      Step over a fire is mean get rid of the "dirty thing" that wandering at grave. In order to take care of our faith, we don't believe in such "fire" can get rid of devils and bad luck as the Iblis himself is made from fire. You should avoid that with excuse like :"No please, we are afraid of fire" instead of telling them it's wrong to do so, as non-muslim relatives still don't know about Islam yet.

      Your family is doing the right thing, respect non-muslim relative by attend Qing Ming festival. InshaAllah they will realize the beauty of Islam.

      Delete

Assalamualaikum wbt and welcome to my blog...
Please kindly leave a comment, it helps encourage me writing more in futures..

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