The walls of the fort are packed with earth and are about 6 metres thick. If you look closely at the picture below, you'll note a hill on the upper right. I live at the foot of those hills.There are about 7 Catholic Churches on the Island, with another four on the mainland. There are a large number of non-Catholic Christians as well with Methodists and Anglicans the largest of the mainline denominations (and some Presbyterians, Lutherans, Brethren [Salvation Army, Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons]) and Baptists, FGA's, AOG's and many smaller evangelical free and Pentecostal groups making up the remainder of the Christian population. So, as you can see, it's a very diverse grouping of Christians.
The Christian Federation of Malaysia groups together the Catholic Church, the Council of Churches, Malaysia (the mainline denoms) and the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (the Pentecostals). The State Government of Penang celebrates all the major festivals such as Eid, Chinese New Year and Diwali with something called an Open House. Basically, it's a large public party where everyone is invited and there's lots of free food and drinks and entertainment.
Christmas is no exception. In previous years, the Christians use to have a large parade through the streets of downtown Penang. But for the past 2 years, a party was held instead.
Anyway, as I was saying, the location of the Christmas party is in a fort, with walls a few metres thick and about 4 metres high. Indications of a siege mentality? I don't know.
Mark, Angela and our modesty made our way to the Fort early, to try to get good seats... and be closer to the food =)
A special tent was set up for the guests of honour, including the Chief Minister, the Bishop and other Christian leaders.
Although we were early, the place soon began to be quite packed as people poured in and took their seats in front of the stage.
Note the people sitting on chairs. These naughty people stole chairs from the food tents and were promptly asked to return them. The photos below show the aftermath... people standing chairless. Fatigue soon got the better of them though and they soon sat down.
The local Churches put on several performances, ranging from dancing kids to Christian rock and carols.
Note the fellows standing right in front of the stage. Don't they know that it's very very rude and that there are thousands of people behind them being blocked by their... well... anyway.
Anyway, we tried to make our way out, but the Chief Minister had the same idea and stalled us. But as soon as his car pulled away, however, the heavens began to pour and I were drenched and chilled to the marrow.
The things I go through to get a story... your humble scribe returned home wet, cold and hungry that night. Not a good combo.
How was your Christmas? Care to share?