Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Parade of the Goddess Mazhu -- 妈祖游神

The Greatest Event of the Year

The greatest event of the year in Sungai Rengit is the parade of the Goddess Mazhu in celebration of Her birthday. This happens every 3 years and almost every villagers participate. Those are not staying in the town or those working else where, young or old, everyone comes back to join the fun.

The temple of Goddess Mazhu is the richest temple in the town. The temple even build its own 3 storey building. The temple itself is small and never got expanded over the year though. The Goddess is said to be a good carer to Her believers, especially to the fishermen. From time to time, there are tourist buses coming here just to bring the believers to pay respect to the Goddess.

Inviting the Goddess to control the 'holy stick' (hokkien: ki2 ki1-起枝) before the starting of the parade. The holy stick would sit in one of the sedans.

Nowadays, people or teams from outside of the town are also invited to join the parade, such as this dragon or lion dance team.
When i was a teenager, i thought joining activities of the temple is really superstitious - 迷信 and old fashioned - 老土 (i think this is a phase of growing up. :) Now, i like it to see the younger generation to join the events hold by the temple, i see it as the passing down of the culture. - 薪火相传

In the team of the lady flower basket carriers, most of them are the young local girls. But if you take a closer look, there are even adult men who dressed like a girl to join the team, as a repay of the kindness to the Goddess.-酬神

The believers joined the parade and crowded the road - 万人空巷. They walked with the parade team for 5km to reach the other temple by the sea at Sungai Buntu -三湾. The hardcore one, walked there and walked back. But most people would come back by bus or van or car.
My husband was the representative of my family, he walked 5km with the parade!

Part of the parade.

The sedan with the Goddess sitted inside was 'not in control' and moving all around in the street. My uncle who used to join as the sedan carrier said, during his year, they had to 'push' and 'pull' the sedan way much more than now. The carriers always ended up with muscle pain the next day.
Some of the carriers 'disappeared' when there were not many audiences and only reappeared again when it was near to the temple.

The parade arrived at the destination temple -观音庙 which is 5km away, by the sea.

The parade returned to the temple and whether you walked 5km or not, everyone can have the free lunch provided by the temple.

Walking Around Sungai Rengit...

Memories as a child

In my Form 1 Geography project, it was about to find out the origin of the name of the town you are staying. I remember i had a manuscript of 'Sejarah Pengerang' (The History of Pengerang) from my sister. I got my project done by using that manuscript. It said, the name 'Sungai Rengit' is coming from the river (Sungai) and a kind of tree which used to grow by the river, which were' rengit' trees. i did not know anyone who knew rengit tree, but there used to be mangroves by the river. Now, even the mangroves have disappeared, not to mention the rengit trees, if it ever exist. As for the chinese name si(4) wan(1) dao(3)四湾岛 (literally means the fourth cove island), if you counted from Tanjung Pengelih, Sungai Rengit is believed to be the forth cove by the sea. It is called an island because long time ago, there is no road access to here from Kota Tinggi. People had to take a boat to go to the bigger town or city. My sister was borned in 1976 and my mom had to take a boat to go the the hospital in Johor Bahru to give birth. Due to this, people mistaken or considered this 'forth cove' as an island.

This is one of the fishermen jetty, it is at the river mouth of Sungai Rengit, beside of the bridge.
When i was in primary school, for unknown reason, mantis shrimps were something that nobody wanted to buy. So i came to the jetty in the evening time when the fishermen came back from their catch, and went back home with a big bag of shrimps for free.

Near by the bridge is a 'Y' junction and this piece of land is at that junction.
When i were young, we called here san(1) jiao(3) po(1) 三角坡 [the triangle slope]. There were a few swings, see-saw and other things for children to play. Eventually, they built a garage to park the fire engines and now, it is just merely for decoration.

My grandma told me that, those tower liked structure on the sea are oil rigs. i doubted it, as i don't think we produce oil here. But later on, my friend who studied petro chemical told me that, they are oil rigs! I am still not sure what are these rigs doing here, as nobody i asked seems like can tell me for sure. Some of the rigs are so near that you are able to swim towards it! [such as the nearest one to Kampung Jawa -- tou(2) wan(1)头湾].

We called here da(4) cao(3) chang(3)[big field]. It is shared by both Yok Poon and Sungai Rengit Primary School. Any special event of the town, this is the place for it. In the evening, there are always people playing football.
When i was in the primary school, this is the field where we were trained by Sir Ganeshen (the only Indian teacher in the chinese school) for run. One round of the field is 400 meter.

This is considered as the main street of Sungai Rengit. There are many more tall buildings (more than one storey) than it used to be. There are a few new shops and restaurants, including local product shops (the only real local products are the pastry and may be the seafood at the restaurants -- even in the restaurant, nowadays, they important many seafood from else where), a bakery or patteseries, a steak restaurant (!) and shop selling bubble tea and waffles.
Most of these shops or restaurants are opened or invested by the local younger generations who earned a bit of the money else where and have confidence over the potential the town.

Medan Ikan Bakar or the grilled fish square is the only hawker centre in the town. On the 4th and 18th day of the month, there is a night market just beside of the square. The night market is the best place to try different kind of local snacks, such as apom-apom, bamboo rice, bird nest water (the owner sold this for at least 20 years already) ... There are also clothes, electric appliances, plants ...

Medan Ikan Bakar have good views. It is by the sea and you can feel the breeze and even see the sunset. Nowadays, you can see many big ships on the sea. I read it some where saying that, this part of water is the international grey zone between Singapore and Malaysia. These ships are parking here so that they do not have to pay the anchor fees, while waiting to get into the habour in Singapore.