1Malaysia Celebrations Toast
How is Chinese New Year celebrated in Sarawak? Most times Nadai Nama Nama would describe on how the the massive fireworks show would light up the skies of Sarawak's urban areas on the eve of Chinese New Year. Within that brief moment these areas will be like a war zone as explosions engulf the midnight calm and explosive but yet colourful sparks decorate the dark night skies. This has been a norm for me since I was a small boy growing up in this wonderful State I call home - all 42 years of it. In my younger years I had been reckless with fireworks on my own. There's a few close shaves that I can share, one of course is when I got shell shocked. A large fire cracker exploded in my hands as I did not manage to throw it away in time as the fuse was too short when I lit it up. Not only was I temporarily deaf (and in pain) when my ear drums refused to stop ringing but my hands were still replaying that 'exploding moments' a few weeks after the 'accident'. Another funny moment was when I was launching a 'missile' firework, which in the last minute,ater lighting it up and walking away a few metres, got dislodge from the makeshift launch pad which I so cleverly designed (so I thought). In fact the released fireballs were suddenly aiming at me and I had to run zig zag like mad trying to avoid those released 'hot bullets'. Yeah....those were the days. Now I guess I am more wiser. I'd just let someone else light up those dangerous stuffs while I stay a few kilometres away and just shoot the explosions with my camera.
On my way to Sibu, I stopped for a rest at Lachau, Sri Aman and discovered its durian season. Here the fruits are sold at the five foot way which are decorated by the reddish firecrackers' aftermath. This Chinese New year will bring good income to the rural folks who have durian trees. Wholesalers who will eventually wallop these fruits to resell in Kuching were already waiting for the longhouse folks who brought in the durians at the parking area.
Oooha session at Kapitan John Goh's (standing on the left) residence, Sibu.
Another unique experience about Chinese New Year and something that has been a practice for so many years in Malaysia during any festivities celebrations and that is the invitation by relatives and friends to their 'open house'. Similarly for this Chinese New Year in Sarawak, open houses are still being practiced in Sarawak. Those who will enjoy most will be the children as they get to taste the sweet goodies and take back the sweet mandarin oranges and not forgetting the angpow. Its no different this year too as we headed to our first destination ~ Kapitan John Goh's house. Kapitan John who happens to be my dad's friend is also connected with me in Facebook (and his invitation was via Facebook messaging too). The power of the Internet in bringing connectivity to people is simply amazing. What was simply amazing was the Kapitan decided to propose the Chinese New Year Toast in Iban 'Ooohaaa'. That was fun because we shouted it out the loudest we can. And thus our Chinese New Year adventure began from one house to another ~ and one does tend to get lost in the celebration especially when our hosts are multi racial. Sometimes there will be some elements of Gawai Dayak, some Christmas and even Hari Raya in the houses we visited but the toasting was always special as it contained the elements of 'Ooohaaa Yamsengism', a mixture of something tis very Sarawakian irregardless of which ethnicity one belongs to in Sarawak. Everyone will stand up and the host or any members of the visiting entourage offer well wishes and prayers for one another before the bottoms up (any drink will do) event. I should say 1Malaysia is alive right here right now even before the 1Malaysia idea itself was introduced many eons ago. Probably we can enhance 1Malaysia Toast with a 1Malaysia Ooohhaaa or 1Malaysia Yamseng.
Yamseng or Chinese New Year Toast Session at Mr.Bes's (standing on the right of the picture) Open House
Oooha and Yamseng session also at Apai Kevin's Open House in Sibu
Yamseng Toast speech by Cikgu Lau who is Chinese but prefers to do his Chinese New Year Toast in Iban
Chinese New year Toast or is it a Gawai Toast?
Well, its only the first day of Chinese New year and already we can see the characteristics that make us Sarawakians special. If in the bigger picture of Malaysia is to see everyone mingling together and speaking on the same wavelength then one would not have to go far in Malaysia. Sarawak and Sabah are a good testament to that. That 1Malaysia journey and destiny of our country will be determined by how well we accept each other's difference. In the words of our Yang Amat Berhormat Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib who emphasized on the need to accept another's uniqueness as a prerequisite to move forward is there. I have to agree. Cheers and Gong Xi Fa Chai....or Oooohaaa 1Malaysia!