Borneo Gearing Up for Chinese New Year!

CNY decor in 1Borneo Hypermall
Just when you think that Chinese New Year (CNY) is a grandeur occasion only in Asian countries like China, Taiwan and Singapore, the festival too, is celebrated by the Chinese in the lesser known Borneo. The Chinese who mostly populate major towns is still holding firm to their traditions and custom. Falls on 23rd January this year, the Chinese will usher in the year of dragon, one of the twelve iconic signs in Chinese’s zodiac.
Lanterns dotting the sky in Gaya Street

In Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah, the Chinese are seen gearing up particularly the shops and eateries playing up CNY songs while Christmas decors were replaced with red lanterns or cherry blossom trees within a week. As usual, the CNY sales campaigns sweep across all the shopping complexes enticing people to hurry up for a bargain. No doubt the regular spots such as 1Borneo Hypermall, Centre Point, Wisma Merdeka, Suria Shopping Mall and the Sunday Gaya Street become the centre of attraction to hunt for new and trendy clothes, grooming accessories, food and household items.

In preparation, house cleaning and having a new hairdo are among the traditions. Family members from afar will reunite again on Chinese New Year eve as the host prepares a lavish range of oriental dishes including the famous ‘yee sang’ which symbolizes increase in abundance and prosperity.
Preparation for lion dance
God of Prosperity (cai shen)

On day one, the Buddhists would worship in temples to offer thanks to deities while some Christians would join church service to count their blessings and express new hopes for the new year. Money in red packets or ang pau will be given to kids or single adults. Open house is common for relatives and friends for a gathering, with a lot of food, the likes of mandarin oranges and glutinous rice cake (nien gao) as well as good stories to enjoy. Then, you will see some entertaining lion or unicorn performance who dance gleefully to the beats of the drums. There are also major open house by various associations and political parties which invite people from all walks of life including tourists to be part of the feast.

Chinese New Year is a 15-day celebration. The Malaysians enjoy two days of public holiday while the celebration will culminate on the last day called Chap Goh Mei.
By Willie Ki
Pix: Willie Ki and Lawrie Kinson

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