The Chingay ritual is one of the oldest celebrations in Malaysia organized by the five main dialect groups – Teochew , Hokkien , Cantonese , Hakka and Hainan. While across the country the Chinese new year ends with the Chap Goh Meh celebration which entails single women throwing orange into the sea, in the town of Johor Bahru, its end is marked by Chingay.
Inside the Old Temple, men take care of their gods, beautifying them for their annual walkabout around Johor Bahru.
Big-headed dolls, considered auspicious characters, entertain the public, who line up along the procession route, awaiting the deities to pass.
Devotees carrying heavy sedans with the deities on their shoulders make their way out of the Old Temple. With the huge crowd trying to get as close to the sedans as possible, the doorway becomes a real obstacle.
A puppet dragon blowing smoke accompanies the procession as it snakes around the main streets of Johor Bahru.
The deities, coming out from Xing Gong, a temporary shrine, for their journey around the town, are welcomed with prayers and a shower of confetti.
Big-headed dolls are part of the Chingay Night Parade, dancing and entertaining the crowd.
The vibrant procession with flashy floats on a 10km long journey around Johor Bahru, which takes about seven hours to complete.
During this fiveday religious ceremony, the deities, carried by devotees on sedan chairs, are taken on a 10km-journey around Johor Bahru to bless the city with peace and prosperity. The ritual ends with the night parade, which a attracts more than 250,000 people each year.
About the photographer
Olga Fontanellaz is a travel photographer from Switzerland passionate about global cultures and traditions. Through her photography, she showcases the world’s cultural diversity with a special focus on festivals, ceremonies rituals, ethnic minorities, and indigenous people. Her images are a small window into their unique way of life. More of her work can be seen on www.anywayinaway.com