The annual gathering for camaraderie among the committee members of the MV Dhamma Fellowship was held on February 1st 2017, during the Lunar New Year of the Rooster at Miao Yi Vegetarian Restaurant for a sumptuous dinner.
The members who graced the event were Brothers Alex Lim, Chan Tuck Sing, Chin Kee Thou, Hing Sing Huat, Jebsons Chia, Mark Teh, Raymond Yow and Yeap Cheow Soon, and Sisters Alice Lim, Angelin Chong, Cheng Seow Eng, Christine Chiam, Doris Sim, Ellen Song, Lily Chan, Linda Sim, Suriaty “Sue” Simon and Upekkha Tan.
We exchanged season’s greeting and wished each other 恭喜发财 (Gong Xi Fa Cai), good health and good wealth.
New Member – “A New Kid in Town”
We gladly welcomed a new kid in town, Brother Jebsons Chia from the Buddhist Pali University of Sri Lanka who shared the joy and soaked in the festivity, a reminiscence of Brother Hing Sing Huat from the Mandarin Class who graced the occasion in last year gathering.
Chinese New Year Raw Fish Salad –鱼生
As our gathering coincided with the Year of the Rooster period we celebrated the Lunar New Year as well, we had the traditional and the must-have dish of 鱼生, also known as Chinese New Year Raw Fish Salad, albeit a vegetarian version with mock fish slices, which is available during the Chinese New Year festive period only. It is a dish made up of ten ingredients mixed together before eating.
Auspicious words were recited when adding condiments to the ingredients in the plate.
恭喜发财 (Gong Xi Fa Cai) meaning “Congratulations for your wealth”
万事如意 (Wan Shi Ru Yi) meaning “May all your wishes be fulfilled”
Raw fish – 年年有余 (Nian Nian You Yu) meaning “Abundance through the year”
Pomelo or lime – 大吉大利 (Da Ji Da Li) meaning “Good luck and smooth sailing”
Pepper – 招财进宝 (Zhao Cai Jin Bao) meaning “Attract wealth and treasures”
Oil – 一本万利 (Yi Ben Wan Li) meaning “Make 10,000 times of profit with your capital”
Carrots – 鸿运当头 (Hong Yun Dang Tou) meaning “Good luck is approaching”
Shredded green radish – 青春常驻 (Qing Chun Chang Zhu) meaning “Forever young”
Shredded white radish – 风生水起 (Feng Sheng Shui Qi) meaning “Progress at a fast pace”, or 步步高升 (Bu Bu Gao Sheng) meaning “Reaching higher level with each step”
Peanut crumbs – 金银满屋 (Jin Yin Man Wu) meaning “Household filled with gold and silver”
Sesame seeds – 生意兴隆 (Sheng Yi Xing Long) meaning “Prosperity for the business”
Deep-fried flour crisps in the shape of golden pillows – 满地黄金 (Man Di Huang Jin) meaning “Floor full of gold”
Plum Sauce – 甜甜蜜蜜 (Tian Tian Mi Mi) meaning “May sweetness enters your life”
Tossing for Good Fortune – ‘捞起‘
The significance of the Chinese New Year Raw Fish Salad is the ‘捞起‘ also known as prosperity toss or tossing for good fortune. It is believed that the higher the toss the more abundance of fortune we get, thus the thrill was in the tossing of the salad with merriments to the possible loftiest height.
The diners participated in the mixing of the ingredients together and tossed in the air uttering auspicious couplets of good health, wealth, prosperity and of course the fortuitous word “發” or “HUAT AHH!”
Moderation in Eating – The Healthy Middle Path
While feasted on the meal as “both devas and human beings always take delight in food. So what sort of spirit could it be that does not take delight in food?” (SN 1:43), we were mindful to “consume food neither for amusement nor for intoxication nor for the sake of physical beauty and attractiveness, but only for the support and maintenance of the body, for avoiding harm, and for assisting the spiritual life.” (AN 4:159).
Moderate eating is also a healthy habit to cultivate as, “when a man is always mindful, knowing moderation in the food he eats, his aliments then diminish; he ages slowly, guarding his life.” (AN 1:402).
It was indeed a joyful occasion for bonding of ties and strengthened the fraternity of the MV Dhamma Fellowship in addition to the regular committee meetings that keeps its flag flying high prescribing to the wise saying of the Buddha. “As long as the monks hold regular and frequent assemblies, they may be expected to prosper and not decline. As long as they meet in harmony, break up in harmony, and carry on their business in harmony, they may be expected to prosperous and not decline.” (DN ii, 77).
An annual gathering would be ideal however bearing in mind annica, the true nature of impermanence when “whatever exists here on earth and in space, comprised by form, included in the world – everything impermanent decays. The saga fare having pierced the truth.” (AN 1: 712), we will take it in good strife as we move along while looking forward to the next gathering.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
Contributor: Chin Kee Thou
Date: February 2nd 2017
Texts. video clip and photos by contributor who takes responsibility for any inadvertence, factual or otherwise.