Johor sultan to join rakyat for Chingay parade

While Chap Goh Meh, the 15th day of the Chinese New Year marks the end of the festival, the celebration in Johor is not over until the Johor Chingay festival has taken place on the 20th day of the first lunar month.
Dragon dancing troop at the Johor Chingay
History will be made this year when the Johor Sultan, His Royal Highness Sultan Ibrahim Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, joins the rakyat for the Chingay parade.

The sultan is no stranger to the Johor Chingay, having witnessed the event in 2006 when he was still the Crown Prince.

“It is especially meaningful for the Johor Chinese community because this will be the first time for a Johor Sultan to grace the Johor Chingay,” said JB Tiong Hua Association chairman, Datuk Seri Tey Kim Chai.

Tey echoed the sentiment of fellow community leaders when he expressed his pride in Sultan Ibrahim who respects other cultures and promotes unity in a multi-racial community.

Organised by the Johor Baru Tiong Hua Association, the Johor Gu Miao or Old Temple, has kept the annual Johor Chingay tradition since the 19th century without interruption except once during the Japanese invasion in 1942.

Facade of the Johor Gu Miao or Old Temple
seen from the front courtyard
The highlight of this festival is the street parade scheduled on the evening of the 21st day of the first lunar month, which coincides with February 28 this year.
The city will be at a virtual standstill when roads are closed for the street parade and the whole community will line the streets to watch skillful performances by prancing lions and dancing dragons, to the thunderous beat of drums and gongs.

A grandstand will be set up outside KOMTAR JBCC for the Sultan and other special guests to watch the parade when it keeps its traditional route and passes through Jalan Wong Ah Fook.

A sea of devotees outside
Xin Gong at the annual
Johor Chingay street parade
The festival originated as a religious tradition of the Johor Old Temple, where the temple deities are taken on an annual “tour” to bless the city with peace and harmony, good weather for the cultivation of gambier and to celebrate good harvests. 

Unlike other Chinese temples that usually bear the name of the deity to which they are dedicated, the temple is believed to be the first Chinese temple in the nation to be named after a State.  In Malay, the temple is known as Kuil Kuno Johor.

The strong relationship between the Johor ruler and the Chinese immigrant community was the reason “Johor” was incorporated in the temple’s name.

Built in the 19th century by a group of Chinese community leaders led by Tan Hiok Nee, then leader of the Johor Ngee Heng kongsi or society, it was dubbed the Temple of Unity because it uniquely houses the deities worshipped by the five main Chinese dialect groups under one roof.  

The street parade, which started as a religious celebration for the five deities, Zhao Da Yuan Shuai (Hainanese), Hua Guang Da Di (Cantonese), Gan Tian Da Di (Hakka), Hong Xian Da Di (Hokkien) and Yuan Tian Shang Di (Teochew), has since evolved into a cultural carnival and an award-winning tourist attraction.

The celebration starts with a lighting ceremony at Xing Gong, a temporary shrine at Jalan Ulu Ayer Molek, followed by a cleansing ceremony at the Johor Old Temple before the deities leave for their 3-day outing, with the street parade as the peak of the Chingay festival.

A version of this was published in The Malaysian Insider on 24 February 2016

1 comment:

  1. well written article, thanks for promoting Johor Old Temple Chingay Parade Festival, wish you Heng Ah ! Huat Ah ! ( From : Eric Ku )