Bound by love for tang yuan
FIVE-year-old Isaac Wee He Yi, from Singapore was clearly excited as he shaped little balls from colourful dough at the Penang Chinese Town Hall’s (PCTH) 20th Winter Solstice Festival celebration.
He was among the youngest participants of a competition to make tang yuan, which was held at the PCTH premises in Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling in George Town, Penang.
The event was also a family reunion of sorts for four generations – Isaac’s 90-year-old great-grandmother Ong Cheng Nai, his grandmother Tan Kia Khee, 71, and his mother Dr Chua Ying Ying, 43.
Dr Chua said the family had missed three years of reunions due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“So, when I returned to Penang in April, we made tang yuan at my grandmother’s house and since then, Isaac has been wanting to make more,” she said.
Twenty-four participants took part in the competition organised by PCTH women’s section in conjunction with the festival that is being celebrated today.
The participants were divided into two categories – five to eight years old and nine to 12 years old.
SJK (C) Kwong Hwa pupil Ng Joanne, 11, who won first place in the second category, said she learned how to roll out tang yuan when she was younger. She won second place in a similar competition in 2019.
“I practised twice before coming for this competition,” she said.
Joanne, who made a bunny design out of rolled tang yuan, said her 13-year-old brother also enjoyed making tang yuan with their grandmother.
“I chose to make a bunny design as the next Chinese New Year is the Year of the Rabbit,” she added.
Her parents Ng Hock Soon, 46, and Ong Ai Wooi, 43, said they encouraged their children to take part in such competitions to get them to appreciate Chinese culture and tradition.
Yeoh Rou Faye, six, who clinched the first spot in the first category, has always had a knack for arts and crafts.
Her mother Koay Beng Guat, 41, said Rou Faye, loved working with clay dough since young.
“This is her first time taking part in this competition. She was super excited and practised rolling the dough to make tang yuan at home,” she said.
Rou Faye’s design of a rabbit nose with a flower beside it captured the eye of the judges.
PCTH women’s section chairman Datuk Ooi Siew Kim said some 400 people between the ages of five and 90 attended the event.
“This festival could not be held for two years, so everyone was eager to attend it this year as it is a chance to bond with their families.
“The event also helps promote, enhance and enrich Chinese culture,” she said.
Ooi said 11 Chinese nationals, pursuing their undergraduate degree, master’s degree and PhD studies, also participated in making savoury Chinese dumplings with meat and vegetable fillings as part of an effort to promote the delicacy from northern China.
She added that besides children from Penang, there were those from Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and China participating too.
Also present were PCTH chairman Tan Sri Tan Khoon Hai and committee members.
The winners received a trophy each while all of the participants took home a leather angpow pouch and consolation trophies.
There were also presentations by the PCTH women’s choir group, dance and singing performances as guests enjoyed homemade tang yuan in syrup, bihun, muah chee, traditional Nyonya kuih and Chinese tea eggs during dinner.
Winter Solstice is celebrated around Dec 22 each year.
Dewi, K. (2022, December 21). Bound by love for tang yuan. The Star. https://www.thestar.com.my/metro/metro-news/2022/12/22/bound-by-love-for-tang-yuan