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A Lunar New Year / The Mugs Strike Back! / A Statue / My Swiss Miss / The Oscars / The Biggest Thaipusam? / The Holidays / And Today.

A Lunar New Year Story.

The Chinese New Year was celebrated on the 29th of January this year. Festivals have always been the cultural centerpiece of our civilization. In a nutshell festivals mark points in our lives that we endure to change ourselves and the surrounding to fit the dawning of each age in time. The colors and soul that goes into ushering in a new age symbolizes the spirit of each culture and also the struggles of the people to ensure the continuity of it all. Most importantly it means that we can gather as a family and also with friends to observe the success of the past year, and reflect on everything that we achieved. (the snap is from Midvalley MegaMall in KL)

I grew up in a village, near to the city, but still laidback with a concoction of everything. There were people of all races and religion and it my eyes decades ago all I recognized back then was only colors. I understood the colors and labeled them to my understanding which of course is a mix of emotions, ranging from fear to happiness. My introduction to the Chinese culture was not of the best start. Our immediate neighbors were Chinese and I still vividly remember when an elderly passed away. The funeral went on for a week, per their custom and honestly it scared me. Initially curios of the gathering of people and also their chatters day and night, I ventured near and discovered a huge box in the middle of the hall draped in red clothes. There were strips of yellow paper with writings on them. Red and yellow, oranges and incense sticks, tea cups and strange men in tall white pointed hats. I stood affixed there wondering of the movements and my friends back then did not know anything either. The day passed and that night I asked my grandma what it is all about, and to which she explained that the neighbor grandma has died. Probably I was sad for a few seconds because she was very nice to us and then realizing the whole scenario was horrified after that. Weeks passed and months, only then I had the guts to go back and play with my neighbor friend.I still remember finding new routes to go somewhere on my bicycle incase there's a funeral near my house, trying to stay as far away as possible from the place and if I had to take a ride on my dad's bike I'll close my eyes and cover my ears being trully scared. Till today I still have those moments of fear whenever I see a Chinese funeral, but I learned a lot all this years. Such elaborate staging symbolize the respect to a person and I believe non show more respect to their departed family members than the Chinese.

Chinese New Year back then was a grand occasion mainly because we get all kind traditional cakes and sweets. Normally my neighbor would give us a generous amount of Kuih Bakul made of flour and thick brown sugar , and also Kuih Kapit which is a thin brittle biscuit made into the shape of a fan, and also oranges. I don’t remember oranges being such a craze back then but nowadays you can’t miss them anywhere. The Chinese traditional food doesn’t stop with the New Year; during the Moon Cake festival they make incredible varieties of moon cakes for offering during the Hungry Ghost month and festivals.

Chinese New Year also signifies cleansing and ushering in a new year and the whole household will be blessed with a staging of the lion dance. It’s another encounter with an unfamiliar culture that left an important mark in my early ages. During my first ever recollection of the New Year, I remember loud drum sounds which crept near ever so boldly, and with a fusion of instruments it produced a rhythm that will forever remain etched in my soul. I ran out of the house to watch what it was, or I could say I discovered a magnificent new ethnic performance. I wish I knew back then what it was, probably the drums at that time did not scare me as much as when I saw the lion dance. I ran inside and hid and my grandma said I cried the whole time. It kept getting worst year after year. I kept on seeing new forms of the ‘lion’ (which of course is just a costume). There was a year when a longer version of the lion came to the local Chinese store and climbed a ladder to get the Ang Pow packets hung on top of a tree. From my viewing point, I did not see the ladder, and you could imagine a seven year old watching a ‘flying’ lion. (Ang Pow packet are small red paper packets containing money, which now is present during all festivals of all the cultures in Malaysia). From those memories still prevalent now whenever the Chinese new year comes, the first thing that would come to mind would be the lion dance, and I still sometimes try to trace any sound of drums during the festival and it does still create a rush inside me if I hear the occasional ones. There are many types of lion dance or dragon dance. The big performance would certainly be the dragon show performed in a celestial dance routine chasing a ball symbolizing the moon. I personally like the smaller performances of lion dances because there are a lot of young kids who take part showing their commitment in this display of culture and also a respect to their tradition. It’s hard to learn the drums but I know there are champion troupes in Malaysia. There are even lion dance troupes comprising of Indians and Malays.

The festival will always be shared among the people of all races and what makes my country more unique is that we love to visit each other during festivals and have open houses. Celebrating friendship and family gatherings signify happiness and the general togetherness that we must all appreciate for a peaceful future. I believe unity is the core value present in everyone who wishes to share each others life. It’s a gratifying experience in seeing that everyone has a reason to celebrate and also welcome everyone into their hearts. While in many countries the presence of the Chinese and Indian people are visible only in China Towns and Little India, the whole of Malaysia celebrates our unity no matter what evil, politics impose on us each day. Sadly also, sometimes I see that the younger generation doesn’t appreciate the cultural differences of other races and to a large extent their own race. Maybe in some ways we have failed to educate the younger generation of the importance of our true ‘colors’. But not letting it be a step backwards, our responsibility remain and will remain forever to ensure everyone shares a part of our culture to build a community capable of living together in this world.

Our greatest achievements will always be the continuity of our culture. Way before science or religion came to existence; our simplest forms of acts or routine have evolved into the grand celebrations of today. We have immense roles to ensure that every detail of the magnificent colors, sound and magic be passed on to the next generation and into the future. Along the way, people must understand that the significance of any culture is to show our uniqueness and the ultimate mission will always be to bring together humanity to appreciate our differences and celebrate our ordinariness. It’s just another reason to love life and others.

The Mugs Strike Back!

It’s been a great tag week and a successful one too. A lot of Bloggers jumped in and posted their mugs. I thank everyone who took part in the first ever International Post A Mug Week. This tool we call blogging provides us with a stage to share and communicate to people around the world. The idea is to create something unique periodically to contribute to the gathering of the minds and to let the readers appreciate what we did. Tagging have always been present in the Blog circles, and even before if you consider chain letters as tags, but I believe we get sick of it after a few million times. Why waste so much time on insignificant lists of equally insignificant things when we can create so much interesting stuff here. The whole idea of the Mug tag is to let Bloggers appreciate something that is present in their daily lives, something ordinary and common yet something that has stories to tell.

I loved all of the mugs that the Bloggers posted, be it simple, with pictures and or if it’s posted with their loved soft toys on their work tables. We see so many varieties and stories. I was touched by the mug post of Tarun Jacob. Tarun is suffering from cancer and successfully going through chemo therapy. He posted his chemo mug, as he calls it and I was struck by how such a simple thing could be a tool so important for some of us. It makes us think of the significance of our surroundings from the people we meet to the things we use. You can read his Blog here; [Tarun].

Elsewhere mugs started appearing from around there world. The influx of ceramic wonders as many calls it happened almost in unison and some great mugs were spotted. Nayan had funny funny mug here, and Lorena was among the first with her mug along with Bailey the dog. Still had an elegant blue mug, and Saty pickep a mug from Google...NOT FAIR bro!, Miladyssa had a nice tall mug, IcyBlue with a beautiful Pieces mug, Vanathi had some mugs from the net, Vidya had 2 excellent mugs...I liked the NY mug alot, a superb Nascar mug from Kerry...I love the indy500 race, Mike with his duck-mug...you gotta love it!, Senthil with funny mug, loved Maruthams mug and hand shot :p, Jeevan with a nice glass mug, Tamilan with the classic tumbler!...I wondered who will put it, and thanx buddy for posting the great Indian drinking tumbler..., Frap gurl had a nice noir shot of a mug, Madelyn had a cool jack p toersons mug, Divya with a nice sunflower mug, and finally Ponnarasi with a nice Disney mug...thanx! I missed Scribz mug! She had a cool scary Halloween mug! Amutha, another blogger from Malaysia had a nice mug with a story.
And also I thank everyone who thought this idea was great and all the new bloggers who came to my blog and everyone that I might have missed...THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Till next year folks, if you see any good mugs out there, GET IT!

A Statue.
(Maybe I'm a bit carried away in my harsh critism for this issue, but then it is an issue thats worth being critisized! Sorry if I offend anyone.)
Malaysian Hindu’s unveiled the world tallest Murugan statue in Batu Caves last Saturday. Costing nearly RM 2.5 million (USD 650,000), the statue took 3 years to complete and is covered in gold paint. Read the whole story here;[TheStar].

I’m completely dumb struck by how stupid the Indians in this country can be and this certainly won’t be the first time. I wonder how by building a statue could lift the living standards or status of a community that remain trashed in this country and at the same time having unsolvable internal conflicts among ourselves. The millions spend on building this one simple statue could have been used for so many important purposes. I refuse to believe that the local Indians have suddenly discovered they had excess money to use for such a grandiose effort while in some part of the country, in plantation estates Indians still suffer under bonded labor!

The money could have been used to fund scholarships for students who loose out under the sick quota system imposed in the local universities. In recent years we have seen an almost 80% drop in the intake of Indian students to critical university courses such as engineering and medicine. They simply don’t allocate seats for us anymore, and the very few educational funds pick and choose the ‘special’ person to support. Mostly or almost all the time politically well connected rich! people will get the scholarship to study. What or who will help the poor and underprivileged. Why keep on shutting the doors of opportunity in the name of madness such as this. The amount used to build the statue could have sponsored 8 to 9 students to study medicine in local private institutions or nearly 80 medical seats in public institutions. Allocated fairly many would have had a golden chance to further their education or helped the dire need of medical patients. Imagine the future we could have shaped.

I sincerely hope more stupid efforts such as this would end. I don’t believe that God asked us to build his statues to glorify his creations. What I understand of religion is that God is everywhere, he choose to be everywhere so that we can reach him instantly when we need him. Why travel hundreds of miles to witness a statue when inside everyone is greedy and sick. Why still after this many ages of scientific enlightenment and cultural development, we still throw insane amount of money to concrete houses of ‘God’ who I’m sure would have always wished for humans, his creation, his children to enjoy a healthy happy life. Now I understand why so many wish to stay away from religion. Religion is just a sick excuse to shy away from our original purpose.
My Swiss Miss.
Martina Hingis is back back back...okay maybe she came out of retirement a couple months ago, but it's great to see her playing. Those were the golden years of tennis watching Sampras, Aggasi (still excellent), Hingis and the 90's gang break all sorts of records. Tennis has never been cooler and her age commanded her to be a sports idol back then. Hope she will scale back to her glory days by winning a couple more grand slams.
The Oscars.
As predicted, the powers that be shied away from nominating Syrianna for the best motion picture category, and even Constant Gardener missed the cut, but then politics is the game in the American movie industry. Suprised to find Munich in the best picture category? Well even SS mentioning that its the second most hard movie he made could not stop it from being a conspiracy theory material for movie buffs. Its so obvious why a movie depicting the Jews re-terrorizing the Palestinians get high mention, maybe its a sign. Then why miss out in letting Syrianna which seems to be more real and portrays real issues from missing the nomination? George Clooney deservedly landed his Best Supporting Actor nomination and also the best director nominations for Good Night and Good Luck which is a valid contender for the best movie slot unless President Bush suddenly becomes soft on the gay issue and Brokeback Mountain wins it. Ofcourse Munich could have won it for sentimental reasons of which if it doesnt, then SS will make another movie of Israel, or Arial Sharon or ... (I'm not against any race or religion, the real issue is different from this, theyre fighting for dirt for God's sake!). My personal wish would be that Ang Lee gets the best director award, and Brokeback to win the best movie. The rest, we'll just have to wait and see, the awards will be staged live on Sunday the 5th of March.
Read the full nomination here;[Oscars78].
The Biggest Thaipusam?
Tourism Malaysia had a full page ad mentioning Malaysia celebrating one of the biggest Thaipusam in the world with 1.2 million devotees paying respect to Lord Muruga at the Batu Caves temple complex. And it's so nice to read that my hometown Sungai Petani coming 3rd in the list of having a large celebration after Penang. I wonder...India should have a bigger Thaipusam right?
You can view my past year Thaipusam photo's from my hometown here;[2004],[2005].
The Holidays.
It was a long weekend break over here covering the CNY, Hijrah and the Federal Territory day. We have so many holidays in Malaysia and maybe we do have the most amount of public holidays in the world! The last I counted it reached over 20 days. Bob got me this nice set of wheels...its the original Shelby Cobra...and yes...its a miniature Hot Wheels car.
And Today.
This is another long post, I had so much to say, but no net anywhere! Nothing much happened over the holidays other than the insane amount of oranges I ate. The only interesting thing happened a few hours ago, there was a fire in the library. We all ran out, but then luckily it was a smll incident maybe a short circuit. The funny thing is the alarm did not go off...I ran out fearing the sprinkler might burst. Neither happened. Worst still, only the floor with fire evacuated, the users on the other floors did not move at all. So much for warnings and all...come to think of it...even my buddies old lab burned down last year! Does any fire security measure work here?!
Another wedding season is here and I'm practising the fine art of NOT picking up phone calls and not answering SMS's. So anyone out there who knows me, dont bother, I dont make special appearances, unless forced too by my grandma or mother. In any case, I would like to wish Roslan and Prof. Meen a happy married life. I really want to attend but I cant buddy, hope you could forgive me. Roslan is my best buddy at uni, helped me alot during my undergraduate years and we did/ doing our MSc together.
Thank you for everyone who did the MUG-tagg...you can still do it i you want, the week ended yesterday, but hey, its a cool tag!
Amour!
[+] OrionFaktory is updated!
[-] Maran from UmaiPadam is backpacking in India right now...wish him all the best and a safejourney!

Comments

Prakash said…
hi GP
I am back...thanks for leaving a note...
I have also heard about the thaipusam being a major event in malaysia. anyway a big post ... no time to read ...will read it tonight and write more comments...
TC
Prakash
Nahuatl said…
Damn! I missed first position.. on YOUR blog even! :(

Anyway.. I am second still :D

Now I will read the blog :D
hey thanks for linking me for the mug n hey ur idea was awesomw
Nahuatl said…
Excellent! You did it buddy, once again!

I really hate the idea of making the religion scapegoat for idiotic stuff people do. Thats disgusting.

Thx for the mug thing.. There will be more surprises! :D
Informative stuff u have here...Hey, u forgot my scary mug..Me *sob*, *sob*....Anyways the stuff about the Chinese culture definitely throws light on certain things....:)
Shiv said…
Happy Chinese new year to u too!!
karthik m said…
reg hingis.. happy that she have returned.. happier she won pairing with an indian!reg statue... mmm... let you complaint the are making the murugan statue in the same way,nothing innovative... but opposing the very idea, its bit harsh(i too dont belive in idle idols.. but i like to see them as form an art)... and the post on chinese customs is simply brllliant!)
Nahuatl said…
Umm.. GP.. u r in trouble, ehhhh.. wrong link to someone's mug!!?? :DD
God save you from Saty's hell! =))))
Ghost Particle said…
[Prakash] Thanx bro...waiting for ur comment after reading the post.

[Nayan] It doestn matter if ure no1 or not man...its the support that matters. Ur d best buddy. BTw i repaired satys link! I dont think he knows it yet...hahaha.

[Senthil] Always a pleasure sir!

[Scribz] Me very very sorry ma....ive added u!

[shiv] Thanx buddy! I dont celebrate it but in the spirit of Malaysia...i acept ur wish!

[KArthik.m] Its true that the idol is a work of art..but im questioning the need of it bro. Bupathi is great, and hingis makes a good pairing. I think the Chinese has a very organized and elaborate culture. Very much similar to us Indians.
Jeevan said…
I hope you are very safe form the Library fire. I also saw the big Murugar statu in front of the cave temple in news paper. Old people used to tell that, god is living in poor peoples, so its vast of money in doing this statu, when they spent this money for poor people, they can reach the god soon and get blessings. the Oscar information is nice. Happy Holidays GP.:)
Thnks..I was jus pulling your leg, n it worked ..wicked me me me...;)
Hi GP,
Tht was a gr8 work. And u really made ppl to do something on it. I guess almost every1 took (Searchd)their mug and Cam to do the tagging... Applause!!!

Have a gr8 day,
Ponnarasi
Nahuatl said…
And you always have my support, macha :D
I know, I can depend on you :)
visithra said…
Ah my mug still hasnt made its debut - soon soon

hehehe u were scared of the lion dance? Hehhe i was never scared of aything
Nirek said…
Bro, You have so much patience to link all the blogs with Post a Mug tag. Wow! Anyway i forgive you for giving me a wrong link.... :) ( yo nayan, thanks for support da)
Miladysa said…
I loved your post on the Chinese New Year and share many of your sentiments.

I feel that the best thing about blogging is that we are communicating with people from all different countries, religions and walks of life through our blogs. We are not hearing what governments have to say to the world but what people are saying and in turn learning from each other. I feel I have friends in Malayasia, India, USA, etc. This never would have happened without blogs!

Happy New Year to you and yours and thank you for the tag :)
Nahuatl said…
No prob Saty.. :)
Have fun!

GP... make your presence felt here :)
Demi Goddezz said…
GP sorry yaar! i finally got a chance to put the mug up:(
S.Karthikeyan said…
Regarding the Murugan statue.

I think people (soceity) build/erect temples, statues, other landmarks for their collective ego. Over a period of time structures will be the only sign of that culture and people. You can any number of examples from history to validate this. The Murugan statue will also be a signature of tamil community and people try to satisfy their ego by contributing to the cause.

Surely, money spent on activites like these can be used to other better purposes like scholorships etc. as you have said but collective ego has higher precedence.

Even spending lofty amounts on science like a trip to mars/moon also are unwarrented and the money can be used for better tasks isn't it.
You made the whole festival sound like a fabulous experience. I know Australia is meant to be multicultural but when I listened to that it made me realize the sort of stuff we are missing out on.
So, Brokeback Mountain is worth seeing?
do you remember the times when indian students who were given scholarships and went on to become professionals were called on to donate some towards scholarship fund for other students? and most did not even bother to acknowledge the call? how about millions we spent to build bridges in our so call cyber city?? since we do not build a 2.5 mil statue every year in every temple, i think the money was well spent. if that is the case, then i too would support your stand. since that is not the case, i think the statue signifies our belief and devotion in our culture. religion is important to humankind. to recognise it is necessary.

that said, i wonder when i can get a clear copy of brokeback, since it has been banned in theatres.
Ghost Particle said…
Hi all, thank you for the comments, i really really have not net acess to answer to everyone. But i will definitly rewrite on the issue of the Statue and religion. And also bout the oscars!

Hang on there friends!

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