Thursday June 21, 2012
Celebrating a famous general
By WINNIE YEOH and CHONG KAH YUAN
Photos by CHIN CHENG YEANG
COME June 30, a colourful parade of 76 elaborately-decorated floats will hit the streets of George Town in a grand procession to celebrate a famous Tang dynasty general, Chen Yuanguang.
Organised by the Tan Si Chong Ghee Seah (association) and co-organised by Sam Toh Bean Lok Keok and The Federation of Chan (Tan) Clan Associations Malaysia, the procession is set to attract some 4,500 local and foreign participants.
More than 20,000 people are expected to watch the 12km long procession, which will be held in conjunction with the Fourth International Kai Zhang Cultural Exchange Convention in Penang from June 29 to July 1.
Organising chairman Tan Sri Tan Khoon Hai said the biennial convention would spread over three days with the procession as its main highlight.
He added that besides local associations and clans, those from overseas like in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, China and the Philippines would also take part in the convention.
“This is a cultural event to commemorate General Chen who built up Zhangzhou,” he said at the Heong Hoon Buddhist Association in Paya Terubong where the organiser’s main float is being constructed.
Tan, who is also Penang Chinese Town Hall vice president, said Chen became famous during the Tang Dynasty in China when there was a lot of infighting among the various provinces.
He said Chen, who hailed from Henan, led 8,723 soldiers to stabilise the situation and brought unity to the people of 87 surnames.
“He developed Zhangzhou by educating the people and providing them with a good living.
“We hope to raise awareness on the contributions and righteous spirit of Chen to the younger generations,” he said, adding the event would help to boost tourism and promote Penang internationally.
Tan said one of the highlights of the procession would be a man riding a horse and donning an ancient general uniform representing Chen to lead the way, with bearers carrying flags with 87 surnames.
There will also be a chingay parade with lion, dragon and tiger dances as well as a school band.
The main float with 12 dragons in conjunction with the Year of the Dragon is being designed by Master Seck Chin Sooi at the Heong Hoon Buddhist Association in Paya Terubong.
Master Seck said recycled materials were being used to decorate the float while sequins and synthetic crystals were incorporated to make it more attractive.
“The float’s main concept is based on the dragon boat. It will bring blessings and success to all devotees.
“There’s also a seat depicting a palace on the float where the statue of Chen will be placed,” he added.
Tan appealed to the public to bear with the traffic congestion and other inconvenience during the procession.
The 12km-long procession will start at 7pm from Lebuh Presgrave to Gat Lebuh Noordin, Pengkalan Weld, Lebuh Light, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Lebuh Carnarvon, Lebuh Magazine, Jalan Gurdwara, Jalan C.Y. Choy before heading back to the starting point.
The convention started in Singapore in 2006, followed by Taiwan (2008), China (2010) with Penang being the fourth host.
This year, it will begin with a welcome dinner for guests on June 29 and end on July 1.
Other activities will feature a forum and discussion on Chen Yuanguang and a heritage tour of the city.