Side Views

Preserve chingay parade — Lim Mun Fah

FEB 3 — I wonder if you have noticed that young people nowadays are more enthusiastic in participating in traditional Chinese cultural activities.

Returning to culture and traditions seem to have become a mainstream phenomenon in recent years.

Young people seemed to be dismissive over traditional temple activities from the 1970s to the 1990s. They thought the activities were old-fashioned, superstitious and outdated. In recent years, however, the mindset of young people seems to have changed. They are now keener in participating in folk activities like the Heavenly God or Jade Emperor Festival celebration and chingay parades.

Although the motive might be different, the enthusiastic participation of young people has indeed added new vitality and motive power to temple activities. The scenes are particularly amazing when these activities are crowded by young people.

It is worth mentioning that such a trend has quietly brought subtle changes to temple activities. Take the Johor Baru Old Chinese Temple’s chingay parade as an example, it is no longer purely a ritual activity, but a symbol of unity that gathers consensus of the Chinese community. And its religious and superstitious colours have been greatly diluted.

Such activities have become more and more spectacular. It has evolved into not only a large-scale folk cultural activity, but also a festival carnival. Many flock to the annual chingay parade and enjoy the bustling and exciting atmosphere of the celebration.

It is a wonderful feeling and a magical impeller. The ancient temple ceremony seems to have a special charm that attracts everyone of different social classes and even foreign tourists. It has become one of the major tourism attractions of the city.

From a positive side of view, it is indeed a pleasant development. However, the authorities must ensure that the parade will never change its direction towards a show just to please young people and tourists and lose its original ancient folk flavour and content.

Perhaps, the parties concerned should start seriously consider and discuss the question of how to find new meanings for temple activities between innovation and conservation, so that it can culturally, spiritually and artistically move forward. —

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.


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