Qingjing Mosque: A part of Quanzhou's cosmo past
One of my favorite things about Quanzhou is its history as an international port. This allowed different religous beliefs from around the world to find their way into the city and surrounding area. There was a significant Muslim community living in Quanzhou as far back as the Tang dynasty over 1000 years ago.
The design of this structure is said to be based on a mosque in Damascus, Syria. Inside the mosque is a thousand year old well as well as a small museum that introduces Quanzhou's Islamic past.
Plans are now underway to build a magnificent new mosque beside Qingjing, one sporting two tall minarets that will tower over the town.
Another Chinese New Year in China. This time round, we made our way to Anxi where our ancestral roots are.
Father went to Fujian last year and enroute decided to attempt to locate our ancestral home and roots - didn't take much effort to find our great grandfather's name in the records held in Anxi. So entire family of 15 people decided to troop to Anxi for a "family reunion".
New Year's eve was spent having an extended family reunion dinner at the hotel which served strange food that kept us guessing for a while - one particular dish was turtle soup boiled with dried seahorse and snake. Supposed to purify and cleanse the blood... Snake meat didn't taste that bad - like extremely tender chicken, but the rubbery skin wasn't too appealing.
After dinner, made our way upslope to the "Chenghuang" temple where we let off loads of fireworks, something appealing to us city folks who would never have a chance to do so in Singapore. All of us were mesmerised by the explosion of the core and display of fireworks right above our heads.
And never once have I experienced a more wonderful way to usher in the Lunar New Year. Close to midnight, we could hear fireworks and crackers going off and the booming culminated towards midnight. Across the night scene outside our hotel window, fireworks went off without a pause and very soon the nightsky was filled with a myriad of colours. The deafening crackers and fireworks was never more welcoming - a grand way to usher in the Year of the Boar. The aftereffect wasn't too appealing though, as the smoke caused visibility to drop to something worse than the haze from neighbouring bushfires during the dry months (in Singapore).
Midnight - first day of new year. Aunts, uncles and cousins created a din at the hotel wishing one another a happy new year and with angpows being distributed to the unmarried childen for good luck.
"First day of New Year"
Next morning made our way to Chenghuang temple again to pray for a safe and prosperous new year. More fireworks and red crackers being let off for good luck and cousins had time of their lives playing with them.
Strolled the bustling streets where there were many hawkers selling street food and the famous candied haw. Locals were trying their hands at winning goldfish by throwing hoops to loop around the fishbowl. The local tongue here is the Hokkien (or min-nan yu) dialect rather than Mandarin (or putonghua) which created a sense of familiarity and belonging.
Granduncle came after to bring us to the ancestral home. Stopped by at the temple of our family's "ancestral deity" to pray for good luck and health. In Fujian, people of a common surname would have a unique deity for worshipping, and for "inviting" to preside over important ceremonies or ancestral worship.
Rain came and plan to visit ancestral home was postponed. Had homemade meal at granduncle's place instead. Looking forward to tomorrow.
"Visit to the Ancestral Home"
A slight drizzle as we made our way up a mountain where the ancestral home sits. Enroute, we passed by old houses made of stone and with slate roof. The ancestral home houses the ancestral tablets and the oldest living relative. We were shown the family tree and old documents with records of our great grandfather's rights to some land and house and dates where he departed for Singapore and sent letters back home.
After which, more crackers and fireworks were lit to indicate the return of descendants to the ancestral home and good luck. The canon-like sounds of the fireworks were echoed by the surrounding mountains and reverberated throughout the surrounding.
Later, made our way downhill to pay our distant relatives a visit. Had a good homecooked lunch and shared happy times with the boisterous children - we were literally stuffed with food and snacks (their way of welcoming us) before returning to the city centre for our own activities.
The next day, we made our way to Xiamen for our flight home. Before that, we stopped by our relative's place again and were sent of with a loud bang, read: more firecrackers.