Maidens pin their hopes on fruit on Chap Goh Meh

Maidens pin their hopes on fruit on Chap Goh Meh
Orange with passion: (Front row from right): Ong, Gee and Sue Neoh; (backrow from right) Junie See and Lim Wei Ning checking out the oranges for the Chop Goh Meh Festival at Straits Quay.

GEORGE TOWN - She is not a damsel in distress, but a hopeful maiden in a quest for Mr Right.

"Will I get a call? Maybe, maybe not. But I'm still going to write my name and number on a mandarin orange and throw it into the sea to see what luck will bring me," said Penangite Amy Ong, 25.

The office executive has been throwing mandarin oranges into the sea every Chap Goh Meh and this year, she plans to scribble "Call me!" on her fruit of passion.

Sarah Gee, 24, is also going to throw her orange tonight, name and number included.

"I am seeing someone now, but who knows what my luck will bring this year," said the executive, her eyes twinkling.

For centuries, Chap Goh Meh (literally "15th night" in Hokkien) was the only evening when eligible Chinese girls were allowed to dress up and stroll along the streets.

So it was the only evening when young bachelors got to check out the neighbourhood girls. The young maidens would throw oranges into the sea to bring them luck in getting good husbands.

This tradition has taken on 21st century twists and turned into a commercialised spectacle, a source of enjoyment nevertheless.

Straits Quay, a mainstay of the festivities, has gone to the trouble of arranging a bevy of bachelors, arming them with scoop nets for the evening.

A bachelor who scoops an orange and the girl he successfully calls will receive prizes from Straits Quay.

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