The night of the Mid-Autumn Festival (6 October 2006) in Than Hsiang Temple proved to be one of the highlights of the year, thanks to the Than Hsiang Sunday School Youth Section. Somehow, word got around that this year's Mid-Autumn Festival would be a grand affair and a huge crowd had gather before 7.00pm with patient expectations for the night.
The Festival started in the Hall of Great Compassion with some chanting of prayers, after which Ven. Zhen Xin gave a short Dharma talk. She said that a happy, well-rounded and complete family is built up on mutual respect, love and appreciation for each other as well as having a set of fundamental, religious beliefs. Therefore, if we wish our family to be always united and complete, we need to learn to appreciate, encourage, love and care for each other. If the family members have the same religious beliefs and take part in religious activities together, then the cohesion of that family will become very strong.
After Venerable Zhen Xin's talk, the children from the Than Hsiang Kindergarten were the first to start off the programme for the evening with a lively dance presentation. Three senior residents of Wan Ching Yuen Centre then sang some songs and played on the harmonica. Next came the Than Hsiang Youth Group who presented a song they composed and wrote the lyrics. It was about how a full and complete family was round like a full moon. While this song was being sung, four talented youths quickly sketched a drawing depicting the song. The younger Sunday School Youth Group followed with another song and that ended the first part of the programme.
Everyone then gathered outside the Hall of Great Compassion and lit their lanterns before moving out to make a circuit of the temple premises. With the many lit lanterns carried by a long line of festive crowd, it was a veritable display of colourful lights winding their way round Than Hsiang Temple. This line ended at Than Hsiang's canteen and each person was given a food packet of bee-hoon, curry-puff, jelly, cakes to eat.
Meanwhile, crowds of children had lined up at the game stalls set up just outside the Hall of Great Compassion. The children had a fun time playing at throwing a pin-pong ball through a small hole, hooping rubber bands at a board of toothpicks, looping a copper ring through a crooked copper line without touching the line, stomping on empty aluminum cans, and guessing the remaining lines of a saying.
Winning at the first four games would entitle a child a coupon per game and with the collection of four coupons, the child could redeem them for a mooncake. There were 20 mooncakes to redeem, so the children had a fine time playing the games with the hope to get a mooncake each. In fact the children enjoyed themselves so much at the games, the evening didn't end until 10.30pm, an hour after the planned closing time. Imagine that!
This year was the first time the crowd stay longer than planned. The previous years, most of the crowd had left early. The games were definitely the main attraction. Everyone agreed that this year's Mid-Autumn Festival was by far the best. Will next year's be better? Well, why don't you come back again next year to find out?
May all be well and happy. Amituofo.