Diamond Jubilee In Tawau

Earlier this month, we flew to Tawau for the occasion of my mother-in-law’s Diamond Jubilee. I call it Diamond Jubilee, but the truth is I don’t know what it is called. It is a part of Chinese tradition, when the matriarch of the family celebrates her grand birthday. My understanding of this celebration is when all her off-springs are married, and their children has children. In this case, there were four generations of off-springs coming together from all over Sabah to celebrate the matriarch’s birthday.

We flew to Tawau on the last flight at 8.30pm from KKIA Terminal 2. Arriving at 9.00pm , we would stay for 1 day, and fly back with Air Asia the day after the dinner. With a child and toddler in tow, it was hectic to say the least. On top of which, with relatives and friends from all over Sabah, it was noisy, friendly, funny and very interesting.

KKIA Terminal 2

KKIA Terminal 2 at night

The Dinner
The dinner was hosted in Maxims Seafood Restaurant, one of few restaurants in Tawau large enough to seat 50 tables. As dinners go, this was probably the loudest one in town. In between keeping an eye on my kids, and keeping up with acquaintances, the evening went by in a flash. What sticks to mind the most, is the laughter and that made my mother-in-law a very happy person.

Maxims Seafood Restaurant in Tawau

Maxims Seafood Restaurant in Tawau

A combination of hot and cold starters

A combination of hot and cold starters

The Chinese menu always starts with the hot/cold plate, a combination of cold and hot items as a starter. It is made of mostly meat or seafood dishes, depending on what is available. Most dinner menus are 7 courses, which will include a soup, meat dishes, vegetable dish, fried rice at the end, followed by a sweet dessert.

It is located in the centre of town, and is probably known to everyone in Tawau. Price-wise, it is what you would expect to pay for this sort of dining. It has been some time since I have hosted a dinner there but I believe a normal menu starts from around RM300 for 10 people, and goes up according to the menu you want. It has been in operation for many, many years and has a reputation of good service and good food.

The Tradition
On the morning of the auspicious day, it starts with offerings of food and the burning of joss-sticks to their ancestors. Many modern families in Sabah will observe this practice, it is to pay homage and tribute to those who came before us. Followed by the tea ceremony, where her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren offer the matriarch a small cup of tea. In return, she will give them a red packet. This symbolizes love, respect, prosperity and the continuity of the family.

In my younger years, there were many time when I felt tradition was stifling, and just got in the way. These days though, I do appreciate the sentiment and symbolism in our traditions. Take the tea ceremony for instance, on most important occasions, a tea ceremony is used. It is a simple act, but one in which it can mean so much. To offer a cup of tea, one has to perform a bow (albeit a slight bow) when you hand over the cup. You also have to ask the person the tea is offered to, to accept your cup. This tea ceremony is used for occasions, such as birthdays and weddings. It is also used when one has to apologize or has committed a wrongful deed to the person or the clan.

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