Lo Hei chopsticks given new function amid pandemic

Harrop was lauded for using chopsticks to give Communion to her parishioners. | Photos courtesy of @StMarysandStAndrewsGainfordandWinston/YouTube (left) and @Liskeardprayers/Facebook (right)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — A picture of Reverend Eileen Harrop, a UK-based Singaporean female priest, suddenly became a hit online as she was giving Communion to her parishioners with a pair of long “Lo Hei” chopsticks went viral among UK media outlets.

“Many parishioners were apprehensive about taking Communions during this time, even though strict guidelines were implemented to avoid the transmission of the virus,” Harrop told the BBC.

Some priests now hand out wafers instead of real bread to maintain a safe distance during the service. On the other hand, Harrop conceived numerous alternatives for Communion, and using utensils was one of them.

Sugar tongs weren’t viable for the vicar due to her height. Around five-feet tall, Harrop’s arms can’t extend that far to give her a 2-meter distance from worshippers.

Screengrab from StMarysandStAndrewsGainfordandWinston/YouTube

Traditionally, Lo Hei chopsticks measure at 46 centimeters (18 inches), and are used to toss Lo Hei, or raw fish salad, into the air.

With more than 20 ingredients, Lo Hei, a Malaysian and Singaporean dish for Chinese New Year, symbolizes good luck and carries the meaning of “stir the uplifted breath of life.”

Harrop was glad that the chopsticks took on an even greater meaning in this context.

By utilizing them for the Communion, parishioners no longer worry about cross-contamination and are also confident to participate.

Screengrab from StMarysandStAndrewsGainfordandWinston/YouTube