SIBU: The Mid-Autumn Festival turned into a celebration of harmony as thousands brought lanterns to Sibu Town Square to share the cultural fun in the light of a full moon on Monday.
A unique characteristic about the celebration is that only Malaysians and Singaporeans celebrate the Lantern Festival in mid-autumn while the rest of the Chinese in the world celebrate this festival on Chap Goh Meh.
Pesta Tanglung Malaysia’s mid-autumn has therefore become a cultural property of Malaysians, and the Chinese community has shared it with the other communities to spell out the colours of the Malaysian brotherhood.
Townfolks thronged the town square at nightfall, parents coming with their children armed with glittering paper lanterns. They released thousands of traditional sky lanterns that dotted the sky like twinkling stars.
Sky lanterns, also known as Kong Ming Lantern, are small hot air balloons made of paper, with an opening at the bottom where a small fire is suspended.
The name ‘sky lantern’ is a direct translation from ‘tian deng’ in Mandarin, with its history dating back to the warring states period in the third century when paper lanterns were released in a military strategy to summon help for ambushed soldiers.
The invention came from war strategist Zhu Geliang, also named Kong Ming. The Chinese today attribute the sky lantern to him and call it Kong Ming Lantern.
Today, Malaysians release the lanterns not to fight a war, but to celebrate in the spirit of brotherhood, love and peace as they release the lights into the sky as a symbol of hope through social integration.
Before releasing the lanterns, the townsfolk wrote their wishes on them like getting better jobs, harmony in society and family, health, luck, friendship and romance.
Folks from the kampung write their wishes on the paper lanterns in Bahasa Malaysia before releasing them into the sky.
At the height of the celebration, townsfolk let off fireworks.
Among the celebrants was a group of university students from Kuala Lumpur who were amazed to see the harmony of Sarawakians. They said they had seen and felt the proclamation of Sarawak being a model state of Malaysian harmony.
The Lantern Festival is a celebration that dates back to the Han Dynasty from 206BC to 221AD while mid-autumn dates back to the Shang Dynasty as a harvest celebration on the autumnal full moon.