By Mei Kuan
About 100 participants of all ages and ethnicities tried their hands at calligraphic writing of festive couplets along Lorong Bijeh Timah this morning (January 23).
Held in conjunction with the upcoming Chinese New Year, the programme aimed to enliven the atmosphere of Ipoh town was initiated by Tin Alley, a non-profit organisation cum cultural curator space.
Funded by the community for the community, the initiative was attended by City Secretary, Ahmad Munir Ishak representing Mayor of Ipoh, Dato’ Rumaizi Baharin @ Md Daud; CEO of Tourism Perak, Nurmalis Musa representing Executive Councillor for Housing, Local Government and Tourism, Dato’ Nolee Ashilin binti Dato’ Mohammed Radzi; the Founder of Tin Alley, Tan Kai Lek and City Councillor, Albert Ho among the guests of honour.
Ipoh-born Tan Kai Lek shared with Ipoh Echo, “We invite members of the public of multiple ethnicities to join us in the spirit of ‘muhibbah’ (goodwill). Coincidentally, the phonetic sound of ‘muhibbah’ in Mandarin is akin to the words ‘tiger’, ‘happiness’ and ‘pa’ of Paloh being strung together (Ipoh used to be known as Paloh).”
According to him, a similar programme was held in 2020: “In 2021, it could not be organised due to the pandemic. At that time, we hung up the couplets from the previous year. This year, we get to write new ones. It will be on display for a month.”
The lively event also featured Master Chi Chern from the Taiping Buddhist Society who is a master of meditation with passion in calligraphy among others.
It was a sight to behold when the completed couplets as long as 20 feet were then hung on the pillars of the fourteen two-storey shophouses along the lane with the accompaniment of a drum performance by the Ipoh Drum Academy.
“The Ipoh City Council is appreciative and in support of initiatives like these. It is high time for us to preserve, revisit and promote our heritage and culture in line with the Malaysian Family concept so that we can learn more about one another,” Ahmad Munir Ishak explained.
“This is an excellent initiative as it has been almost two years since we have not been able to celebrate Chinese New Year collectively. Gathering everyone regardless of ethnicities and religions, it reflects our unity and harmony. It could be made into an annual event to attract more tourists to the state,” Nurmalis Musa expressed.
“Today was my first attempt at calligraphic writing and I found it very interesting,” she added.
Besides Mandarin characters, other languages were also spotted on canvases of vibrant red hue expressing wishes for the coming year.
For instance, Md Zainal Abdin from the People’s Republic of Bangladesh was spotted writing good wishes in Bengali language.
“This is my first time writing on a festive couplet and I enjoyed it! I would like to join again next year if possible,” enthused Zainal who works as a factory manager at Bukit Merah Wood Products Sdn Bhd at Lahat for over 30 years.