Johor Chingay festival
The Johor Chingay Parade is an annual street parade held in Johor Baru as part of Chinese New Year festivities started in the 19th century.
There are a folk saying on Johor Baru people that “Chinese New Year never come to end if no celebrate Johor Chingay”, therefore how the special and localize festival like this close ties with Chinese in Johor Baru, especially links with Johor Baru Old Chinese temple.
The annual Chingay has attracted more than 300,000 people to march around the major roads of Johor Baru.
In Chinese "Hokkien" dialects , Chingay means “real art.” Initially, It is also known as the Parade of Deities.
It dated for 20-23rd in first month of Chinese lunar calendar.
There are a folk saying on Johor people that “Chinese New Year never come to end if no celebrate Johor Baru Chingay”, therefore how the special and localize festival like this close ties with Chinese in Johor Baru, especially links with Johor Baru Old Chinese temple.
The temple was built during the 19th Century by then Head of Ngee Heng Company led by Tan Hiok Nee and various Chinese community leaders.
Although there are no actual records regarding the completion of the temple, the plaque and the century-old bronze bell located in the temple shows that the temple is around 130 years old.
149 years ago, there was a paranormal haunting at the cemetery along Jalan Ulu Air Molek. In order to get rid of the evil spirits, the townspeople decided to exorcise the evil spirits by inviting the deities from the Johor Ancient Chinese Temple (柔佛古庙). After the ceremony is done, there is a parade back to original temple. Thereafter, every year they will repeat this ceremony to represent luck and prosperity among all who attended.”
The 130-year old tradition features numerous cultural performances, lion/dragon/tiger dances, Chinese clowns, beautifully decorated floats, martial arts troupes, huge Chingay flags etc.
The Johor Chingay parade lasts for four days. The climax of the parade is on the night of the 3rd day when the Deities parade around the Johor Baru Town Center.
Generally Johor Old Temple would be the main center of the celebrations but it is simply not big enough to accommodate all the devotees and worshipers and therefore a temporary shrine, called Xing Gong, is set up outside of town at Jalan Ulu Ayer Molek.
The Johor Chingay starts at Xing Gong and goes through the main streets of the city and back to Xing Gong. In between they stop at pivotal points of which the Grand Stand along the street Jalan Wong Ah Fook (usually they arrive around 9, 10pm) is the highlight of the night. Members of the Royal Family and other VIP’s are set up on a stage and greet the deities, floats and worshippers. Almost every time they stop at the main points, gods are being rocked and the lion and dragon dancers usually do a dance performance.
Overall the entire journey of the procession takes 7 hours to complete. You really have to be fit if you want to follow it all the way along and you should have water with you. In the evening we simply went near the Main Grand Stand which is what most locals do and waited for them to arrive. Thereafter we followed it back until the Double-tree Hotel.
Tip: Be there earlier to get a good spot. Jalan Wong Ah Fook is where they would arrive first before the main Grand Stand – near T Hotel. There was also a railing which was good to have as a separation from the crowds.
Johor Baru Chingay is held annually on the 20th to the 22nd day of the First Month of the Lunar New Year( Chinese Calendar )
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