Penang's CNY Cultural and Heritage Celebration

On the 7th day of the Chinese New Year, Georgetown, Penang has been organising a Chinese New Year Cultural and Heritage Celebration every year – and that was even before the city was given the UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2008. It used to be just a small scale celebration of the Chinese New Year, but the celebration has been getting bigger over the past years.

This year, it fell on 20 February 2010 and was packed with activities, performances, exhibitions and stalls selling food, handicraft and painting. It was, in other words, packed with all things related to the Chinese in Penang, and swarming with people of all races and ages, and of course, with tourists who happened to be lucky enough to be in the island then. (Below is a photo of the main entrance to the celebration.)

It was held at the heart of the heritage site, comprising the Acheen Street, Armenian Street (below), Cannon Street, Ah Quee Street, Soo Hong Lane, Chulia Street and Kampung Kolam.

It was organised by the Penang State Government and the Penang Chinese Clan Council, and supported by many associations, companies and clan houses in Penang as well. As it was held right in the middle of the Heritage Site, many of the clan houses and temples were part of the celebration. These include Khoo Kongsi (below), TeoChew Temple (further below left) and the Hokkien Tua Pek Kong Temple (further below right).


The whole area was closed off to traffic for a few days in preparation for the one-day celebration. The area was divided into different zones, promoting different culture and heritage of Penang such as handicraft (below), art (3rd photo below), clan houses, history, and even morality such filial peity, etiquette and justice.

There were also many stages, showcasing different performances such as cultural dance, lion dance, dragon dance, Chinese orchestra, Chinese opera, songs, drums (below), wushu or kung fu, puppet show, drama and many more.

It was a celebration rich in culture and history of the Chinese in Penang. While the Chinese here, myself included, would associate ourselves more as Malaysians rather than being from China, we are still deeply rooted in our culture from our forefathers who had immigrated to this country hundred of years ago. I would whole-heartedly recommend everyone, be it Chinese in Penang who would like to learn more of our own culture and history or tourists from far-flung places who are interested in local cultures, to arrange your schedule to be in Penang on the 7th day of Chinese New Year to enjoy this extravaganza.

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