Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Welcoming The Goat Year

"Family is where life begins
and love never ends"

First up, I'd like to wish all my readers and friends a very happy Lunar New Year!

The celebration will officially end tomorrow, which is the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar. So, you still have chance to do some last-minute ang pao collections from your relatives, neighbour, bosses, vegetable seller, roti man or whomever you think you stand a chance haha! 

So let me make a quick recap of how the celebration went this year.

Offerings for the ancestors on the lunar new year's eve.  Ancestor worship is a religious practice based on the belief that deceased family members have a continued existence, that the spirits of deceased ancestors will look after the family, take an interest in the affairs of the world, and possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living.

The "water pouring", also known as "suat nam", which is a way to transfer merits to the departed ancestors. Transferring merits to the departed is based on the Buddhism belief that on a person's death, his "merits" and "demerits" are weighed against one another and his destiny determined, his actions determined whether he is to be reborn in a sphere of happiness or a realm of woe. The belief is that the departed one might have gone to the world of the departed spirits. The beings in these lower forms of existence cannot generate fresh merits, and have to live on with the merits which are earned from this world.  Those who did not harm others and who performed many good deeds during their life time, will certainly have the chance to be reborn in a happy place. Such persons do not required the help of living relatives. However, those who have no chance to be reborn in a happy abode are always waiting to receive merits from their living relatives to offset their deficiency and to enable them to be born in a happy abode. Those who are reborn in an unfortunate spirit form could be released from their suffering condition through the transferring of merits to them by friends and relatives who do some meritorious deeds.

Helping out Mom at the kitchen to prepare for the reunion dinner. It is a Chinese tradition to include the celebration of the new year
by a great family reunion over a plentiful meal.

We thought we would tone down a little in terms of the number of dishes this year. However, we still ended up with 8 types of dishes this year.
P/S: The sweet and sour plum sauce prawn was superb!

With Mom and Dad.

Three lil sisters.

Mom already telling us to start eating by the time I took this photo hahaha!

Preparation completed for the prayers at midnight.

The Buddha's altar with fresh fruits and flowers for offering.

The next morning, first thing was going to the Taiping Insight Meditation Society (TIMS) for morning dana.

The alms round was, for the Buddha, a key feature of the monastic life and the alms bowl is, for all Buddhists, a symbol of the monastic order. However, the monk can only accept the food after they are offered to them. To make things easy, we usually offer a whole table of food at once as if it were a giant dish. To do this, generally requires at least two lay people to physically lift the whole table and at least one monk to receive the whole table by grabbing onto the edge. However, everyone are usually very eager to offer the food, and hence, they will form a huge crowd around the table. Those people who cannot reach the table will just hold the hands or clothes of the people in front of them.

"Dana" is a Pali work, which refers to the practice of giving, whether to human beings ot animals. It is universally recognized as one of the most basic human virtues, a quality that testifies to the depth of one's humanity and one's capacity for self-transcendence.

Everyone will bring food there to be offered to the monks. It can be anything from white rice to nasi lemak, bananas to mango pudding.

Listening to New Year's Dhamma talk by Bhante Kumara. The first Dhamma talk of the New Year usually focuses on the zodiac of the year.
Therefore, this time, it was stories about goats and how they relate to our daily lives.

Went to the Wat Bodhiyaram Buddhist Temple in Assam Kumbang to watch the lion dance performances, which is thought to bring good luck.

 There are usually two dancers. One acts as the head and the other the body. They dance to a drum, cymbals and a gong. On the head of the lion is mirror so that evil spirits will be frightened away by their own reflections. As the lion runs along the streets he begins to visit different places. On his way he meets another person, the "Laughing Buddha" who is dressed in monk's robes and a mask. He teases the lion with a fan made of banana-leaves which makes the lion jump around.

The lion presenting the tray of oranges to one of the monk to symbolise a fresh start for the new year and the spreading of good luck.   

The cookies and snacks this year, which was all mainly home-made. 

 We did not have a goat plush toy, so I loaned my lil sis's alpaca, which I think resembles a goat hahaha! 

Went to the third temple - Kuan Ying Temple for prayers. Yes, I know I know. I'm like so kiasu by going to so many temples right? Hahaha! 

Next was to visit grandma's place. 

It is a Chinese custom that unmarried children will receive gifts of money in red packet, commonly called "ang pao" for good luck.
 Got photobombed by lil sis here though. 

Third aunt, who just arrived from KL, dropped by for a short visit with my cousins as well. 

The next day, another family dropped by with grandma. 

This is Killian, my German cousin who will give you the sweetest smile when you speak Hokkien to him hahaha! 

Grandma with her grandchildren. Like someone said, I am like out of the place compared to the rest lol!

 Grandma with her five daughters.  

This year, food was aplenty with the main dish was grandma's famous Thai laksa and yellow glutinous rice with chicken curry and fried mee hoon. 

Second aunt.

 Third aunt. 

Forth aunt. 

As we the adults were inside, the kids were busy playing with firecrackers. 

Right after the family gathering at my aunt's place, I dropped by to another gathering. This time it was my high school mates,
and it was great to catch up with everyone after some time.

So, that roughly summed up the New Year celebration this year. Thanks for reading.


Unknown said...

Hello Calvin, you got a very nice blog like you're taking to places. you photos are awesome like a story itself thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...
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Unknown said...
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