Singapore — A family has shared their unusual experience of taking part in the lo hei ceremony without shouting the usual auspicious phrases.
In a recent announcement, Mr Lawrence Wong, the co-chairman of the Multi-Ministry Task Force on Covid-19, said there would be new restrictions for gatherings during the Chinese New Year (CNY) period. These new restrictions have been in place since last Tuesday (Jan 26).
He said that if the people go to restaurants for their reunion dinners, “during yu sheng, or lo hei, you will have to keep your mask on” and that there “should not be any shouting of auspicious phrases by the F&B staff, or by the patrons in the restaurant”.
With this rule in place, at least one family which went to a restaurant has shown what lo hei would be like without the usual shouting.
So, instead of the diners or the staff shout out the phrases, they cleverly used technology to help them. The family used a mobile app which has pre-recorded shouting of commonly-used auspicious phrases, such as “年年有余”, which represents abundance and surplus throughout the year, and “甜甜蜜蜜”, which represents the hope of having a sweet and ever-loving relationship between family members and couples. The video also features the phrase “发啊” (huat ah), which is an auspicious phrase usually symbolising the wish to have an increase in wealth.
The family’s video is going viral online, with many people laughing at the extent to which they have gone to lo hei. Others praise them for abiding by the rules implemented by the Government to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
There are also those who are in shock from the sombre atmosphere. Without the cacophony of shouting and with the diners keeping their masks on, the usually festive occasion feels muted.
Nonetheless, diners are strongly encouraged to abide by the restrictions and not shout during their lo heis. They can either opt to use the app or record their own phrases at home.
Lo hei yu sheng (捞起魚生), or shortened to lo hei, means tossing up good fortune. It refers to the ritual adopted in Singapore of tossing up the yu sheng and of saying auspicious phrases while this is done. The yu sheng is then eaten.
The yu sheng dish is prepared by adding ingredients in a specific order on a large plate, during which wishes of good fortune are recited. The ingredients include sashimi (thinly-sliced raw fish), shredded vegetables and assorted condiments. The ingredients are then tossed as diners exchange blessings and words of prosperity. It is believed that the higher one tosses, the more prosperity that person will receive.
As Chinese New Years approaches, Singaporeans can be expected to abide by the rules and celebrate it as best as they can.
Denise Teh is an editorial intern at The Independent SG. /TISG
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