Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Mystery Fruit #2: Elixir of Immortality
The weekend before Chinese New Year started, I was at my local market's fruit stall. Nestled among the apples and pears was something that caught my eye. A curvaceous piece of fruit with a pretty red bow just begged for me to pick it up. So I did and asked the fruit man what it was. He placed his palms together, fingers pointing up, and replied, "For praying."
Hmmm, that's interesting. For praying. I don't normally pray to fruit, but I bought it anyways so that I could look at it some more, maybe even put it on my table as a decoration. As he took my money, the man repeated, "For praying," about three more times just to make sure he got his point across.
I couldn't figure out what kind of fruit it was. Because I found it amongst the apples and pears, I thought maybe it was some sort of pear which had been manipulated while growing so it had a cinched middle. I searched the term "water drough" which the man had scribbled down for me and came up with nothing. One day, it suddenly hit me. It's a gourd! I don't know what took me so long.
In Penang, the bottle gourd or Hor Lor Pu is a symbol of prosperity, longetivity and good luck during the Chinese New Year. The gold characters on one sticker say "Wish You Good Fortune", the traditional greeting for New Year. The other sticker reads "Everything As You Wish". At least, that's what my dad deciphered when I held up the gourd during our Skype session.
Hor Lor Pu is supposed to hold the magic elixir of immortality consumed by Buddhist deities. Sounds like something Voldemort would want to get his evil hands on, doesn't it? Displaying it in your home is supposed to ward off harmful energies and promote long life.
Too bad it started rotting.