Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mid-Autumn Festival, Moon Cake and Lantern Festival

The Mid-Autumn Festival (Simplified Chinese: 中秋节; Traditional Chinese: 中秋節; pinyin: zhōngqiūjié), also known as the Moon Festival, is a popular East Asian celebration of abundance and togetherness, dating back over 3,000 years to China's Zhou Dynasty. In Malaysia and Singapore, it is also sometimes referred to as the Lantern Festival or "Mooncake Festival", which is just the same as "Mid-Autumn Festival" but with different names.

The Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually around mid- or late-September in the Gregorian calendar), a date that parallels the Autumn Equinox of the solar calendar. This is the ideal time, when the moon is at its fullest and brightest, to celebrate the abundance of the summer's harvest. The traditional food of this festival is the mooncake, of which there are many different varieties.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the two most important holidays in the Chinese calendar (the other being the Chinese Lunar New Year), and is a legal holiday in several countries. Farmers celebrate the end of the summer harvesting season on this date. Traditionally, on this day, Chinese family members and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon, and eat moon cakes and pomeloes together. Accompanying the celebration, there are additional cultural or regional customs, such as:

  • Eating moon cakes outside under the moon
  • Putting pomelo rinds on one's head
  • Carrying brightly lit lanterns
  • Burning incense in reverence to deities including Chang'e
  • Planting Mid-Autumn trees
  • Lighting lanterns on towers
  • Fire Dragon Dances

Shops selling mooncakes, before the festival, often display pictures of Chang'e floating to the moon. .... for more on this please click on this link

As I remember during our childhood days, every year around this time we would make our own lanterns made from "Milo" tins and sometimes from bamboo and color paper. The "Milo" tins were definitely fire proof. And in the night we would walk around the neighborhood for hours and it was safe to do so. In present time, I don't think it is safe to do so unless you have a big group. Anyway my family attended a Mid-Autumn Festival and potluck gathering organized by Kajang Buddhist Center at Jalan Reko, Kajang. The various food from many participants was delicious. The events included best dress in three categories (traditional dress) which is Indian , Malay and Chinese. Followed by the Lantern Making competition using recycle materials. Various Chinese tea was served. The highlight of the evenings was a lantern walk around the place which covers about 1.5km.

Click on the above for a slide photo display

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Lat Tong, Kajang Claypot Spicy Soup, Kajang Food

Location of Lat Tong and other areas of Kajang Town
Courtesy of Yu Hua School Kajang

Years ago I was told that Kajang's clay pot "Lat Tong" (hot spicy soup of chicken or pieces of pork meat) originated from Semenyih and spread to Kajang and after that it became popular. This Kajang food is a very popular dish. I did not have the opportunity to verify their origins. I have tried the "Lat Tong" at a few places but somehow felt that this little side restaurant located at Jalan Mendaling tasted very good. If you are coming from Maybank Kajang, go past the right angle turn and notice a side lane on the left, you will notice two eatery shops where the first sells noodles and the second is the "Lat Tong" but both do not display any noticeable shop names.

This "Lat Tong" should not be mistaken for the normal hot pepper soup but instead uses lots of ginger and other ingredients. Also available is the clay pot "Fah Tiew Kai" (chicken in special sauce) and clay pot "Chee Keok Shin" (sour pork leg). On the 7th of September 2007, three friends, two from Ipoh and one from KL en route to Malacca to attend a Shaklee Advanced Leadership Seminar stop by in Kajang to have "Lat Tong" for breakfast. They have heard about it from me and were eager to taste them.

There were 5 of us so we ordered "Lat Tong", "Fah Tiew Kai" and "Chee Keok Shin" to go with rice, KC ordered porridge. After a few bites, everyone commented that it tasted very good. The chef of this delicacies is uncle Tony, he looks more like a Kung Fu master than a cook and he speaks English besides the various Chinese dialects. He has operated this shop for 9 years this coming November. Incidentally this shop is known as Hong Kong Lat Tong (in Mandarin) that was given by some patrons years ago. So when some guest came from Hong Kong and commented they have not heard of it in Hong Kong.

Next time you are around either for breakfast or lunch why not try the Kajang Famous "Lat Tong" dish.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Old Buildings, Architectures and Structures in and around Kajang Town


It is always our habit of driving or walking at relatively fast pace through town. Only if you were to spare some time walking slowly and looking up at the structures and designs of the old shop houses along Jalan Sulaiman, Jalan Besar, Jalan Tukang and Jalan Mendaling, you will notice artistic design and year of construction displayed at the buildings. Most of the buildings in “Kajang Old Town” were constructed around 1920s to 1930s. The architecture of these shop houses is a combination of traditional Chinese and European design. The ground floor was used for commercial activities and the upper floor as living space for the family.

The older street of Jalan Tukang has more varied display of design as compared to others. Till today, the corner Lee Chang Long goldsmith shop stands as a Kajang landmark. Formerly named Hong Bee, i.e. Low Ti Kok’s shop had a panel of cast-iron floral motif (picture) which was torn down and replaced by flat wall some years ago.

Another big shop house at the end of the row along with Maybank has a third storey and a balcony overlooking Langat River. This building was owned by Towkay Low Boon Liew who was a rich man in Kajang and a philanthropist. He was a committee member of the then Kuomintang branch in Kajang. There is an emblem of the party engraved which is still noticeable even though part of it had broken off during a fire some years ago.

In Langat 14th Mile, the eye-catching distinguish old shop house of Woon Family has a big KMT emblem at its back facing the Langat River. Its owner was Towkay Woon Peng. Further down the end of the old town across the river, there is another old building which was built using compact earth, a traditional Hakka technology. The owner was Chong Koon Lin, a successful businessman involved in tin mining and was appointed as council member of Selangor Sanitary Board.

The flag of Kuomintang consists of a twelve ray sun
(originating from the twelve traditional Chinese hours of
the day) to symbolize the spirit of progress. The flag forms
the Canton of the flag of the Republic of China

Article and photos by Lee Kim Sin
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