Bandar & the Moon….

Tonite is the Mooncake Festival, the 2nd biggest Chinese celebration after the new year, like a busy bee I decided to go down to the Chinese Temple, right next to the tallest building in Bandar, the PGGMB Building.

What is the Moon festival? Every year on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar, when the moon is at its maximum brightness for the entire year, the Chinese celebrate “zhong qiu jie.” Children are told the story of the moon fairy living in a crystal palace, who comes out to dance on the moon’s shadowed surface.

Of course, the most famous legend surrounding the Moon festival concerns its possible role in Chinese history. Overrun by the Mongols in the thirteenth century, the Chinese threw off their oppressors in 1368 AD. It is said that mooncakes – which the Mongols did not eat – were the perfect vehicle for hiding and passing along plans for the rebellion. Families were instructed not to eat the mooncakes until the day of the moon festival, which is when the rebellion took place. (In another version plans were passed along in mooncakes over several years of Mid-Autumn festivals, but the basic idea is the same)…

Like in any other Asian countries, the festival is celebrated with dances, feasting and moon gazing (hence the 15th of the month is a full moon, tonite is no exception!) and ofcos mooncake lots of them. While I was at the Chinese Temple earlier tonite; absorbing the sights and sounds, the Chinese Opera, watching the performances, the lavish costume, the white cake make-up, the colourful lanterns, the whole atmosphere, I was transported back to my childhood when we were living in Bandar watching the opera with my siblings. Back then it was celebrated extravagantly by the Brunei people of all ages not just the Chinese and I remember the stalls that lined up outside the temple then. I loved the stalls as I liked to buy the colourful hard boiled eggs…….

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