Feb 27, 2015

16 Kid At Heart, Watching The Lion Dance

Tak Tung Chiang is here!!!

That's how we alerted the elders that the Lion Dance troupe had arrived when we were little. Tak Tuk Chiang, being the sound of the beating drum that accompanies the lion dance.

Chinese New Year is a happening affair back in my kampung. We would all hang red lanterns and prosperity symbols on the door. This also makes it easy for the lion dance troupe to identify which houses to visit. The lion would stop by and bless homes with good luck and fortune.

Dad would prepare several red packets (ang pao) with money for the lion. Several, because the number of lions that visit us can be as many as seven or eight in the first two days of the New Year! Some lions are from temples and some are from Chinese schools. Dad gives more to the temple that 'takes care of me' - although we're church-going people, I was also a devotee of the Goddess Kuan Yin. Ah, but this is another story altogether.

My corner of the kampung is predominantly Chinese so it made more sense for the lion to walk from house to house than get on and off the slow-moving truck that transports the whole troupe. It's always an exciting time for adults and kids alike, one filled with vibrant chatter, GongXi wishes and occasional mimicking of lion dance movements, as we followed the lion to far as five houses!

Fast forward now and in my middle age, I still make an effort to catch the lion dance every year. I have this feeling that if I were to stop, my life would be a lot less colourful and festive gatherings would slowly fade away to routine table get-togethers that are less memorable ...not less enjoyable ..just less memorable.

These photos were taken on the first day, after having our annual mee sua (longevity noodles) breakfast.  I apologise for the blurry pics!

A little bit about what's going on. The lion first pays respect to the deity and ancestors. Drums and cymbals slow to a uniform beat at this point. It picks up dramatically when the lion starts bowing.

And then, it gets exciting with fancy footwork and the lion agilely jumping about and raising its head.

Lion paying respect.

This is a short video of the lion giving out mandarin oranges to onlookers, including me. 





My share of the lion loot. They say these bring good luck.

Mandarin Oranges

Lions taking more oranges to give out.

Hanging from the ceiling of the entrance of this building is a bundle of fresh lettuce with a red packet tied to it. Lettuce carries the symbol of wealth. One lion lifts the other to reach it. It eats the lettuce and spits it out to the crowd, symbolic of spreading wealth to all of us who were there. That's the gist of it.

Now you know how I spend my New Year mornings. I'd be looking out for the lion!

With that, I wish everyone "Gong Xi Fa Cai!" (I wish you prosperity).

16 comments:

  1. Happy cny and gong xi fa cai to you and family, Sharon!!

    A lovely story of your childhood. I used to love to watch lion dance too as a kid. But now it would be too noisy for my ears. Haha. Of course I encouraged the kids to watch lion dances every CNY.

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    1. Thank you. Happy Chinese New Year to you and your family too, Rose. I used to feel that way about the noise..but now, I must be getting old..lol..lol!

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  2. Looks like that you had a GREAT start of 2015!

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  3. Tong tong chiang.. Thats our version, and I haven't watch any this year :(

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    1. Aww...there's still time, Ez. ..until Chap Goh Meh! ;)

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  4. It's strange, but I don't like the sound of lion dance. It's kinda scary to a certain extent. When I was a child, I was really afraid of going near it. Hahaha!

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    1. I guess I just got used to it, with so many visiting us..lol! Hard to avoid. ^.^

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  5. Sharon! I love lion so much...dragon dance much more thrilling..

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    1. I agree! Can you imagine a dragon dance troupe visiting our homes? That would be so awesome! ^.^

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  6. What lovely pics! Sounds like you had a fabulous Chinese New Years. :) T. http://tickledpinkwoman.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Tina - it's all about rich food and traditional customs. Always interesting! ^.^

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  7. I do like to watch lion dance
    but i just found a bit noisy and too loud standing beside the drum and gong
    the musical instruments that play cit dong ciang
    anyway happy belated CNY hahaha looks like im very late to visit this post
    MY-Emily

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    1. Better late than never..haha. I guess I got used to the 'noise' ;)

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