By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Dec 19: Traditional festivals in Sarawak like the upcoming Winter Solstice or Dongzhi festival observed by the Chinese community on Dec 21 must be preserved as they contribute immensely to ensure long-lasting and harmonious social cohesion.
Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng said that it was the responsibility and obligation of every community to preserve, archive and pass down traditional cultural identities to the next generations.
But more importantly, he pointed out that social heritage like festivals, traditions, customs, values and beliefs not only “makes us who we are but are platforms that bind and bring people together irrespective of race, religion and background together.”
“Bringing people from different cultures together to appreciate and celebrate our traditions and festivals is our responsibility.
“It helps to nurture us to grow together by understanding and respecting others’ cultures and traditions,” he said before distributing ‘tangyuan’ or glutinous rice balls to residents of KMC Flat in Jalan Ban Hock here today.
The MBKS’ Caring Community programme aimed at spreading merriment of Dongzhi festival that is fast approaching was jointly organised with the Federation of Chinese Associations of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Division.
Wee emphasised that coming together in celebrations was a significant culture of Sarawak that demonstrated the strength, unity and harmony of the state’s diverse communities.
“As such, we must always appreciate the opportunities that festivals and celebrations bring to continuously enhance and strengthen our bonds and ties.
“Harmony is a very important element in society that allows us to live and strive together. If the 27 ethnic groups in Sarawak are not united, surely it will be hard for us to move forward,” he added, reiterating that such cultural values of Sarawak must continue to be preserved and maintained.
Meanwhile, the Dongzhi Festival is one of the most important festivals of the Chinese community to celebrate the arrival of winter and the hopes for spring’s arrival.
In Chinese tradition, there is a saying that the Winter Solstice is more important than the Lunar New Year. This is because ancient China was an agricultural community, and cultivation had to be done according to the season.
Traditionally, the Dongzhi Festival is a time for the family to get together and one of the activities that occurred during these get-togethers is making and eating tangyuan which symbolise reunion.
Federation president Dato Richard Wee as well as members of various Chinese associations were among those present. – DayakDaily