Dong Zhi at Tan Kongsi

The Eng Chuan Tong Tan Kongsi (Tan Clan Association) celebrated the Dong Zhi (Winter Solstice Festival) with a dinner cum karaoke just now. Like last year, my neighbours with the Tan surname, Soon Leong and wife, Mr. Tan and I, attended the function. More than three hundred clansmen and their family were there. It was an eight-course dinner that began promptly at 8pm. Clan gatherings like this is a good way to renew kinships and forge new ones. Although I attended the same function last year, it was still an awesome experience to be among so many clansmen at the same place and time.

Eng Chuan Tong Tan Kongsi at Halaman Seh Tan, Penang.

The ornate Tan Kongsi granite facade.

The ancestral altar.

Tan and Tan and Tan and Tan …

Blogger’s Block

I am afflicted with blogger’s block. For one week now I have been sitting here, staring at the screen, wanting to write something but could not. The words just would not flow out. There are many topics that I want to blog about but they remain as mere ideas. Trying to verbalize those thoughts is like trying to squeeze water out of a rock.

Instead of writing, I am posting a photo that Wuan took at the Tan Kongsi in Beach Street, Penang. This ornate design is a ventilation hole. There are two at the front entrance, one on each side of the wall. Most Chinese temples have these built into the walls to facilitate the circulation of fumes from joss sticks and the air inside the building.

Dong Zhi

After the Lunar New Year, Dong Zhi is the most important date in the Chinese calendar. Dong zhi literally means ?the arrival of winter? and coincides with the Winter Solstice. This is the time when night is the longest, daylight shortest, sunshine weakest and marks the beinning of winter.

This is the time farmers celebrate the year-end harvest. This is also the last festival of the year where the entire family will gather to give thanks to a bountiful year with a feast and eating the tang yuan, a dessert of glutinous rice balls and syrup.

The Tan Clan Association in Penang observed the Dong Zhi yesterday with offerings and prayers at the Clan Hall, known as the Eng Chuan Tong Tan Kongsi, at Beach Street. Later in the evening there was a dinner at the premises that my neighbours with the Tan surname and I attended.

That was the first time that I had been into the Clan Hall or attended any of its activities. It was an eye-opener to be in the presence of so many people carrying the same surname as I. It was a jovial and boisterous affair with good food, good company and interesting karaoke performances by clan members and entertainers in attendance.