"The roundest moon can be seen in autumn.
It is time for reunions.
I wish you a happy mid-autumn day and a wonderful life - 1"
It is the usual greeting this month since the moon-cake festival is here so I thought I would write something significant about this yellow ball in the night sky.
When I googled, 'moon' it was quite a surprise where I found more than 700 million entries on the subject. I realised there was nothing much I could write about except my own moon-walk on earth.
As a child, I didn't bother much about the festival itself because at the age of ten the reason for the celebration was not important. It was only in later years did I learn what the lantern festival meant. But I welcome the delicious moon-cakes and beautiful lanterns that came with the annual hoo-ha.
"Summer ends, and Autumn comes,
And he who would have it otherwise
Would have high tide always and
A full moon every night - 2 ."
They came in simple white wrapping paper placed in a brown paper bag with string carriers. Today's moon-cakes are placed in jewel cases that cost a fortune (sixty Singapore dollars for a box of four?)
"It was fascination, I know
Seeing you alone with the moonlight above
Then I touched your hand and next moment... 3."
They probably took her down at the end of the season to be displayed again for the next moon festival.
Now the moon-cake. It was sweetened red bean or lotus seed paste baked within a delicious outer layer. Although it could get stuck between the teeth eating was part of the fun. Also, mooncakes in the 50's were simple, without the exorbitant colours, designs, special names and yucky taste that is found today.
Up till now, I've always enjoyed the simple dark brown bean-paste inside but without the yolk. Cut equally into four pieces I could eat only one quarter a day for the next four days.
"Good behaviour deserves a reward," remarked my mother. "Another four pieces for the next four days, if you behave. Otherwise, I shall eat them myself!" My dad would quietly walk away because he knew the fun was in the buying too.
But I always had my share.
I remember the intricate and thin bamboo frames that were shaped into celestial animals and what-have-you, covered by transparent coloured papers making cute lanterns that could be lighted up at night with its tiny candle within.
"Careful," mother would warn sternly, "a steady hand lights the wick, not the lantern," always warning us that we need to beware of a burn-up if we were careless with the fragile, combustible and bright, luminous magic art pieces.
To me, it didn't matter what the lantern was shaped like. The flickers inside changed colours as I walked the shiny being around. As long as I could carry it in the dark as the proud owner I was happiest. Good that my mother bought three lanterns to distribute to a Malay friend, an Indian neighbour and a pretty girlfriend who lived down the road.
"How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world - 4."
The friends were Hamid, who was so happy to be carrying one with me; the other was Naysar, in his sarong, who ran around the block with his fish lantern shouting, "Ikan, ikan." He became a little looney I guess with the moon in full bloom. We didn't think who we were, just children sharing in playful joy.
|Nat King Cole; William Shakespeare; P. Ramlee; Hal Borland|
"Engkau laksana bulan, tinggi di-atas kayangan," crooned Hamid in Malay. It was one of P. Ramlee's famous songs and it meant, "Exquisite like the moon, you stand high above the rest." She did.
I enjoyed the moonlight nights very much. Did you?
A Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to all in Singapore and across the seas.
The symbolic allusion to the moon underlines the dominating power of the feminine. So, just to tickle your mind a little, could it be a power to which a little boy may have felt exposed?
This posting especially invites readers to comment on their own moon festival experience.
The Moon Cake Festival, Zhong Qiu Jie or Harvest Moon Festival falls on 27th September 2015.
The article is original and under a copyright.
In The Full Moon Flowers Blossom - Yue Yuan, Hua Hao - Zhou Xuan
Song: Yan Hua / Word: Fan Yanqiao
The floating scattered clouds
The bright moon shines as people
Gather today for a happy reunion
Clean and shallow ponds
Mandarin ducks play in the water
Red skirts and emerald caps
Devoted married couples like lotus flowers
Open in pairs, mutual love between spouses
The soft wind blows onto the beautiful flowers
Blowing with much warmth and affection
Among the people
(Very close but not literal translation; suitable for the English ear.)
|Aeroplane Lantern - 1960's [Image: Mun Chor Seng (c)]|
Images: Google, Mun Chor Seng and Personal Collection.
1. Chinese greeting.
2. Hal Borland - Nature journalist, poet, writer.
3. Song; Fascination (1932) sung by Nat Cole; composed by Fermo Dante Marchetti and Dick Manning (English version). It became pop in later years with the movie, Love in the Afternoon (1957) starring Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper.
4. William Shakespeare; A Midsummer Night's Dream.
YouTube Video: chakrasXXX.
5. Zhou Xuan: In the Full Moon, Flowers Blossom YouTube Video: cdman88.
25th September 2015 Friday.
The haze has been bad and has lasted for more than a week. Many Singaporeans stay indoors. Worse, it has gone out of control and many people in the region are suffering from the problem. Indonesia, who has been providing us with the unwanted great smoke from the sky, doesn't seem to have done much to stop this sky pollution which has been going on for years!
"While the sun struggles to survive its choking cousin
The moaning moon whispers, "Love thy neighbour..."
People who celebrate the Moon Cake Festival will probably be experiencing a Moan Cake Terrible.
TODAY, SINCE TWO DAYS AGO, THE HAZE IS BACK: 26TH AUGUST, 2016.
(An obvious reference to a past hazy sky problem. Now the sky is clear.)