Saturday, February 5, 2011

A Day Before CNY

The only non-halal market in the heart of Kota Bharu town will open during the night 3 days before CNY.  It is the only market in the whole of Kelantan that sells pork openly in the public. Over at the outskirt there are other individuals who sells  pork  discretely as a respect to their Muslim friends and neighbors.  The Market will open at night  two days before the CNY eve and close on CNY eve as most of the seller themselves are Chinese. During these 2 nights  various kind of delicacies, meat, fruits, imported vegetables, flower  and ingredients for  preparation are sold. Some of the prices may escalate especially seafood such as large prawns and fish.  Hot items that people usually buy are flowers, pork duck, chicken for prayer a.k.a. ‘seng-lay ‘ in hokkien, duck, pine apples, mandarin orange,  mee a.k.a. noodle, large size prawns, traditional delicacies such as sticky cake and ingredients for preparing Traditional dishes.
The CNY activity starts a day before CNY itself. This is a very important day for most of the Chinese as it includes prayers during the morning and the re-union dinner during the evening.  As our  family members  are small, our food preparation starts as early as 4 am in the morning on the CNY eve.  Most of the family members help up in the preparation of Traditional dishes such as peeling of onions and garlic and other herbs. By 8 am, most of the dishes are already almost completed.  At about 9pm we proceed to the Temple to offer prayers to our God and also my late dad and mom’s altar. At the temple, we can only offer Vegetarian food. As such things are simpler over here.
Back home, we need to perform prayers to our ancestors before noon. As such after the Temple, we rush home hoping that there is no traffic jam.  At home is where our traditional and customs dishes are served as prayers to our ancestors.

There are certain dishes that we do not miss to offer to our ancestors ever since I was a little kid. It includes ' seng-lay Chicken' which include a complete 'kampung Chicken' that come with the head, and slaughter from the neck and a sliced of pork meat, both steamed served with a glass of rice wine. Another traditional dish is the 'hong-bak' which includes pork and chicken cooked with plenty of chopped onions, herbs, 'gula-melaka'. And my most favorite Peking duck with salted Vegetable soup. Other traditional food includes 'Sticky Cake", Pineapple and Mandarin Oranges. All these food carries a meaning, representing or symbolize some story behind.      
Flowers, Joss sticks or incense and candles are usually a must in any Buddhist or Taoist prayers. Chinese tea is also served in the the custom including prayers and weddings. And there are ways to serve them to show our gratitude and politeness.
The 'seng-lay Chicken' served with full chicken from head to feet and internal organ, sliced pork meat and a duck egg together with a glass of rice wine.
The 'Peking duck soup with salted vegetable'. A traditional dish.
The 'hong-bak'. It includes pork, chicken, 'gula melaka' cooked with herbs.
The prawns can be cook in many ways and is polular now a days among the later generation. According to the Cantonese customs, it symbolize happiness as prawns in  Cantonese is called 'ha'. So with a lot of prawns means 'ha ! ha! ha!' all the year.

Fish symbolize prosperity. In Cantonese or Mandarin, fish is called 'Yu'. It represents "Nian, Nian You Yu". Can someone translate this ?
Long Noodles represents Longevity, which is served during most customs such as birthday, weddings and prayers.

And of course the Mandarin Oranges which represent gold and is usually given to friends and relatives during the visit. 
All is not over for the day. To mark the end of the Chinese Calendar, a Re-Union dinner is held on the evening before the Chinese New Year. This is a grand occasion where most of the family members who traveled afar for work or studies will come back for the grand Re-Union dinner with the older generation especially with the grandparents and their parents. At the grand dinner, alcohol is also served and all grudges among family members are forgotten and forgiven.
'Yee Sang' popular among the Cantonese is served in most restaurants nowadays. Even though we are not Cantonese, we do absorbed-in the culture, whatever is best for us and for fun. For the past few years we celebrate our Re-Union dinner at the Renaissance Hotel. The price for a table cost RM688++ which served all halal food.

And here is one family photo for the album. Happy Chinese New Year and Gong Xi Fa Cai to all my blog buddies and friends. May the year of the Rabbit give you Peace in your Heart, Health in your Body, Wealth in your Life, Joy in your Home and may you and family always be blessed with these priceless treasures throughout the year. Again, Gong Xi Fa Cai, Wan Shi Ru Yi  恭喜发财,万事如意 ! from a simple kbguy and family.