Kuala Lumpur is awash with red and gold as the city gets ready to welcome the Chinese Lunar New Year.
By Deborah Tobin
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – February 1, 2016
The Year of the Monkey is a little over a week away and Kuala Lumpur is painting the town in glorious, glowing red and gold as the city’s malls compete to out-dazzle each other’s spectacular thematic displays.
Retailers are taking full advantage of K.L’s self-proclaimed mall culture and its love of festivals in a race to attract the most visitors during the Chinese New Year celebrations.
At Mid-Valley Megamall this year’s theme is Fortune Breeds Fortune. It’s one of the largest shopping centres in Southeast Asia and the mall’s visual displays feature giant goldfish bowls. Performances are held amid ethereal, floating goldfish.
Nor Tengku’s three young children waited patiently as a dance troupe set up props for a lion dance performance in the Centre Court of the Mid Valley Megamall. Mrs. Tengku shared her family’s plan to visit as many malls as possible over the next few weeks to enjoy the decorations and performances. “Malaysians love hanging out in malls. It’s always so hot outside. We’re here for the air conditioning, the food and the atmosphere. Sometimes we call ourselves Mallasians,” she laughed.
Sue Wong is a K.L. marketing executive. She described the competition among the malls as “friendly, but intense.” Wong added that “public expectations of the atmosphere in the malls during the Chinese New Year holidays have grown over the past few years and the malls’ visual marketing teams have responded by introducing interactive decorations like lion dances, acrobats, and musical performances.”
Last Year Pavillion Mall gained bragging rights when its 9.1 metre Golden Goat became the “biggest goat replica” according to the Malaysia Book of Records. This year Suria KLCC boasted on Twitter: “It’s official: our lantern is the tallest outdoor Chinese lantern with a steel structure, as certified by the Malaysia Book of Records!”
Pavilion Mall is inviting visitors to “behold the sight of the Auspicious Golden Monkey, standing 30 feet tall on a mountain of gold and fortune. Toss a coin into the mountain and be bestowed with good luck and fortune throughout the year.”
Kuala Lumpur is a city that embraces celebrations and the ethnically mixed population is always keen for a festival. Jason Lee, a K.L. taxi driver put it this way “we all celebrate each other’s holidays here – Christmas, Hari Raya, Deepavali, Chinese New Year, it’s all the same. K.L. just loves a party.”
The city moves seamlessly from one celebration to another. This year, the taking-down of Christmas trees and the putting-up of Chinese New Year lanterns seemed to be a synchronized operation.
Over 40 per cent of people in Greater Kuala Lumpur are Ethnic Chinese, so the annual celebration of the Lunar New Year is culturally significant to many city residents and just great fun for everyone else.