MELAKA: The festive emphasis on hawker-friendly vibes at tonight’s Chinese New Year celebration in Melaka drew a crowd of over 30,000 visitors from all walks of life.

For the first time, the celebration which kicked off with lion and dragon dances accompanied by drum beats, was held openly at Jonker Walk.

Visitors eagerly flooded the Jonker Walk Main Stage grounds as early as 5pm, showcasing their excitement for the event which was officiated by the Governor of Melaka Tun Mohd Ali Mohd Rustam.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture secretary-general Datin Radiahtun Malkam and state leaders joined in the festivities, participating in the Yee Sang ceremony symbolising luxury, wealth, happiness and prosperity for the Chinese community.

The celebration which started at 8pm featured diverse performance segments to cater to local visitors as well as foreign tourists.

Among the highlights were the Traditional Chinese Orchestra by the Melaka Teo Chew Association, Peranakan sketches, the 24 Seasons Drums and wushu performances.

The celebration, embracing a hawker-friendly concept with 323 vendors, was heightened by the state government’s provision of RM15 food vouchers to the first 10,000 patrons along Jonker Walk.

Besides the performances, the one-kilometre route around Jonker Walk was adorned with lanterns, decorative lights and nine dragon replicas symbolising the zodiac for the year.

In his opening speech, Ab Rauf said that tonight’s gathering reflects the value of unity and togetherness as Malaysians.

“We are all part of the Malaysia MADANI family, that highlights the significance of unity, harmony and the well-being of the people as shared values that bring us together.

“I call upon the leaders and the people to uphold the values of tolerance, unity and cooperation among the various races for the sake of harmony and in driving national development together,“ he said.-Bernama

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