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Sep 11, 2011

Mid-Autumn Festival 2011

This bigger than human-sized figurine of Chang 'E made of papier-mâché and stood above the heads of the spectators at the "Mid-Autumn Festival" exhibition. This was the crowd-pleasers and the main attraction at the Albert Mall to provide educational information for communities to learn and understand the multi-cultures of one another in Singapore.

“中秋节快乐“! Greetings to everyone "Happy Mid-Autumn Festival.

The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节), also called "The Mooncake Festival" or "The Lantern Festival" and is held on the 15th day of the eighth month in the lunar calendar. According to the Gregarian calendar, it falls on 12 September, 2011.

Last month, Jerome Lim blog "A walk around Geylang Serai during Ramadan" and then posted the "Fly Me to the Moon" blog. Being "Uniquely Singapore" with event calendar almost every month one after another for the festivals or celebrations of the multi-ethnic community all the year round.

Whilst Chinatown celebrates "Mid-Autumn Festival 2011 here , this is the traditional annual festival "happening street" in Chinatown.

Since I cannot be present at so many places at one time due to time constraints, I decided to visit the Albert Mall to soak in the atmosphere of the Mid-Autumn Festival and shopping at the roadside stalls near Kuan Imm Temple at Waterloo Street this year. This is the open-air public space where cultural events all-year round located across the road of Bugis Junction. There are activities and road-side stalls and buskers which attracted crowds of locals and popular among tourists.

With a throng of the crowd just a week from the Mid-Autumn Day, there were many tourists from various countries, such as Americans, Australians, Vietnamese, Indonesians, Malaysians and also a couple of curious Africans who found the celebration interesting and never seen before in their home country.

On a walk to the Albert Mall at Waterloo Street, I met a friendly middle-aged Australian couple from Sydney and told me that they were last here in Singapore 40 years ago. They were excited to visit the many places of interest in Singapore for sightseeing. Many new places for tourists and travellers to bring home happy memories.

Mooncakes to accompany with Chinese tea.

Without mooncakes, mid-autumn festival is a heritage traditional food to be missing.

Over a century or more, the ingredients of the mooncake has evolved. The shape of the mooncake does not changed...that is round in the shape of the moon. The original ingredient from "tau sah" (white or black bean paste) to the absurd. The latest flavored ones has durian, chocolate, lotus seed paste filling, green tea snowskin and beyond the imagination of the most creative bakeries.

Do you remember the first taste of mooncake?

A young girl who was old enough to speak and tasted the first mooncake asked her mother: "Mum, why is there no moon in the mooncake?"

The stunned mother then mumbled to herself, "Oh dear! How could I find an answer to my daughter when she is eaten "sun biscuit" (太阳饼) and then ask me where is the sun in the "sun biscuit"? Kids say the darndest things to surprise us adults.

The pomeloes imported from Thailand are in season.

Another "must-have" item for the Mid-Autumn Festival are the lanterns for the kids to join a procession in the evening with their friends in the neighborhood.

Many years ago, I had guest-blogged at "Good Morning Yesterday" to reminisce Mid-autumn Festival (中秋节)in Bukit Ho Swee Kampung about my treasured rooster lantern, a gift from my late mother.

The following photos of the paper-made lanterns of various cartoon designs and colors.


Outdated lanterns will eventually become obsolete. Children want new toys every year when they grow older for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Usually they would stop carrying lanterns when they are older than 10 years old as I observed.

I am amazed by the creative ideas of the lantern makers over the years. The lantern designs keep up with the times according to the cartoon characters which appear on TV or video games.

The modern lanterns these days are made of colored transparent plastic material, lighted with tiny bulbs and battery-operated. Gone are the days when lanterns were made of paper and lighted with small candles inside.

Did you recognise the popular video game character "Angry Bird"?

Lanterns galore...kids will have a hard choice to decide the favorite lantern.

The new musical lantern toy just released in 2011.

Please turn on the speakers and click on the video clip. Above: This is the latest plastic musical lantern which is battery operated for sound and action.

Below is the musical "Bubble Lantern" video clip. Cool...

This is the "newest" "Bubble Lantern", another creative toy invention the kids are attracted.

Artificial colorful flowers to cheer up the home for Mid-Autumn festival.

Since the olden days in China, the brightest moon shining in the sky inspired the Chinese poets to create and composed during the mid-autumn day before the moon disappears behind the clouds again.

The famous Chinese poet 李白 composed the most well-known Chinese poem "静夜思". It captured the beauty of moonlight and memories of the homeland:

     床前明月光,疑是地上霜。
     举头望明月,低头思故乡。

The display of some of the poem poster at the public exhibition at Albert Mall are:







The Legend of Chang ‘E

According to legend once upon a time, ten suns appeared in the sky. Smoke was seen arising from the surface of Earth from the immense heat. The seas dried up and people gave up hopes about living.

As soon as the bad news got to a hero named Hou Yi, he climbed to the peak of Kun Lun Mountains and from there shot down the nine additional suns.

As Hou Yi possesses great martial art skills, he was respected and loved by people. Many patriots came forward wanting to be his apprentice to learn some skills from him. One of them called Lian Meng entered with evil intentions.

Not long after, Hou Yi married a beautiful and kind-hearted wife, named Chang ‘E. Other than passing on his skills, Hou Yi makes it a point to spend quality time with his wife. This brought about envy from some people of this happy and loving couple.

One day, Hou Yi went to the Kun Lun Mountains to visit his friend. On his way up, he met the Queen Mother from whom he pleaded for the elixir of immortality. According to heasy, anyone who takes this elixir can instantly become an immortal in heaven.

However, Hou Yi could not bear to leave his wife, so he had Chang ‘E temporarily safe-keep the elixir. Unfortunately, Lian Meng was secretly watching when Chang ‘E was hiding the elixir in the drawer of her dressing table.

Three days later, when Hou Yi brought all his apprentices out for hunting, Lian Meng maliciously faked illness so that he could stay behind. Shortly after they left, Lian Meng sneaked into the inner chamber. He coerced Chang ‘E to hand over the elixir. Chang ‘E knew that she wasn’t Lian Meng’s match. Being very decisive, she hurriedly opened the drawer, retrieved the elixir and swallowed it.

After taking the elixir, Chang ‘E started to float into the sky out of the window. As Chang ‘E very badly misses her husband, Hou Yi, she decided to set foot on the planet closest to Earth - the Moon.

In the evening when Hou Yi returned home with his apprentices, the maid recounted what had happened. Astonished and furious Hou Yi drew his sword and wanted to kill Lian Meng, but Lian Meng had already fled.

Deeply saddened, Hou Yi could only look up into the sky and shout out his wife’s name. While looking up, he realized that the moon was exceptionally bright and clear that night. There was a swaying figure which resembled his wife. He quickly sent his men and set up an incense table in the backyard which Chang ‘E loved and which usually displayed her favourite fruits. Since then, Hou Yi would look at the moon and start to think of his beloved wife.
In multi-culture and multi-ethnic groups in Singapore, regardless of race, language or religion, the peoples have the liberty to celebrate their every community to keep their traditions to celebrate their own festivals and heritage as a harmonious society.

The Mid-Autumn Festival (Part 1): Dwellers of the moon 中秋~月亮的传说(上) at 188 Hugh Low Street , Ipoh blog by "Childhood memories of the scissors grinder's daughter".

Mr Lim Lian Hai , the well-known Singaporean fine art photographer, commented this melodious Mandarin song 但願人長久 famous amongst lovers of Chinese songs by Theresa Teng (鄧麗君). Another Chinese classical song, 《水调歌頭》宋·苏轼·词 张鷹·曲 姜嘉锵 唱 linked to his comment on the blog.

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6 Comments:

Blogger lim said...

As a young boy, I was pretty amused by the cake that is stuffed into a small pig cage. I wonder what they call it? They still have it today. I would like to share this song, Looking at the Moon, 望月, with everyone here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIPrjKfRT5E

September 13, 2011 at 1:07 PM  
Blogger PChew said...

The lady figurine at the Mid Autumn Festival Exhibition site is not known as Bugis Square. Since 1998 it is called Albert Mall which covered the stretch of Waterloo Street from Rochore Road to the Indian Temple.

September 14, 2011 at 11:04 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for the lovely YouTube link to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival to watch "Looking at the Moon (望月).

The "mini pig cage" reminds me of my childhood days at Bukit Ho Swee kampong.

Thanks for the memories, Mr Lim.

September 14, 2011 at 10:50 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Hi Philip,

Thank you for pointing out that the Bugis Square I mentioned was outdated. Sorry for misinformation and not keeping up to date due to the change of the place name.

I've amended it to "Albert Mall" on the blog accordingly. Much appreciated.

September 14, 2011 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger lim said...

Talking about the poem by 苏轼 in the first captioned photo, both Theresa Teng and Faye Wong have made this song 但願人長久 famous amongst lovers of chinese songs, but I prefer this classical rendition, sung with emotion and passion, which is what the poem is all about. 但願人長久

September 15, 2011 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger Ipohgal said...

Hi James,

I am glad we still observed mid autumn festival albeit with modern lanterns and mooncakes which are so different from our times.

It used to be lanterns made from colourful glass papers with a candle inside and batteries were unheard of then. The mooncakes we had then were the original types with bean paste and nothing else.

Anyway, times had changed, but the essence of the festival will remain, hopefully!

By the way, there is a book called "Ipoh, my hometown" recently produced by ipohworld.com which is a compilation of childhood stories by 64 writers who grew up in Ipoh between 1920 and 2010. They are from the ages of 92 to 12. I am one of those writers. I wrote using my original name, Yip Yoong Fong.

You can purchase the book online. Just go to ipohworld.com and you can order from them. Costs RM100 per copy. Good buy and good read, James!

September 22, 2011 at 12:22 PM  

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