ambience: New Year’s Celebration, Lion Dance
We’re in Penang, Malaysia, where with a clash of cymbals and the beat of a drum, the celebration of Chinese New Year is underway. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.
Traditionally, this is an agricultural holiday, which marks the end of the old growing season and the beginning of a new one. Here in Malaysia, the celebration is primarily an urban event. It’s a time for dressing in new clothes, for giving gifts to family members and for acting on one’s very best behavior. According to custom, it’s bad luck to sweep, mop or scrub during New Year’s celebration, lest one’s good luck be washed away.
For many Chinese, the celebration of the New Year begins with a family meal. At this restaurant in Penang, for example, members of one Chinese-Malaysian family wish each other a happy new year and share what they call a New Year’s salad — a mixture of raw fish, shredded vegetables and oil.
ambience: Restaurant sound
The New Year’s celebration will last fifteen days, with most days involving a different ritual event. On the final day of the festivities, a crowd of hopeful businessmen will lead a procession in honor of prosperity through the streets of Penang. Tonight they and others will gather at a local temple to ask that the New Year bring them happiness as well as wealth.
ambience: Chap Goh Meh, Last night procession, Penang – cymbals, percussion
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