Locals and tourists alike join Chap Goh Meh celebrations in Penang

GEORGE TOWN: Tens of thousands of women including foreign tourists were present at the annual Chap Goh Meh celebration at the Esplanade here.

The enticing factor was a chance for them to each throw a mandarin orange into the Penang Channel and for some lucky male in a rowboat to pick it up.

On the orange is the name of the fair maiden and for the bold ladies, their cellular contact numbers; some listed their social media accounts.

It is an old age of matchmaking which has now become synonymous with the Chap Goh Meh festival.

It is called the Chinese version of the St Valentine Day's celebrations after it first became a tradition in the 19th century of southernmost China.

The ladies participating were shy to grant interviews, but it was learnt that some were tourists, from Hong Kong and Europe, and they were sporting enough to try throwing a fruit into the open seas.

The Straits Quay shopping arcade management in Tanjong Tokong had even thrown in a challenge that whoever emerges as a couple from this session of throwing oranges, will get a free lunch and complimentary gift sets.

At the state-level celebration at the Esplanade, state executive councilor in charge of tourism, Danny Law Heng Kiang said there was a touristy feel to the event, adding that the celebration is a landmark in the tourism calendar.

Thousands were present to mark the end of the Year of the Earth Dog's 15-day celebration of the Chinese New Year, and the start of a year which many Malaysians are hoping to be an auspicious one.

There were dance performances from various organisations and schools such as Jiuzhaigou Tibetan Dance Group, Euphoria Penang, Chung Ling Private High School, SMK Heng Ee and others.

Also on hand to entertain were crooners Marcus Lim and Serena Lim Sze Yee and a Tibetan fashion show.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng wore a broad smile as he watched the ladies throw the oranges, perhaps with his own personal wish that Pakatan Harapan could win the next general election.

Lim said he was delighted to see many local and foreign tourists enjoying an array of events organised by the state such as the Snake Temple Celebration, Miao Hui, and Penang State Chinese New Year open houses.

He said the tradition of throwing tangerines into the sea during Chap Goh Meh is one of the many unique cultural celebrations in Penang as it is celebrated not only by the Chinese but also the different races and foreigners.

He said Penang is fast becoming a model city of cultural heritage and one of the top tourism destinations.

Law thanked all the supporters and sponsors, especially the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce, for sponsoring the display of fireworks which has become the main highlight here.