Monday, January 26, 2009

Lions Prowl The Streets During Chinese New Year

Today, the Chinese community and those of Chinese ancestry throughout the world will be celebrating the Chinese New Year. This year is the Year Of The Ox according to the Chinese zodiac. Known also as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, this festival is celebrated as well in Vietnam (where it is known as Tet), Mongolia, North Korea and South Korea. The Lunar New Year used to be celebrated in Japan but after the Second World War, the Japanese discontinued celebrating the Lunar New Year in favour of the Gregorian New Year which falls on January 1 every year. I would like to wish those celebrating this festival A Happy And Prosperous New Year. Gong Xi Fa Cai! (meaning "May You Be Prosperous" in Chinese.)

During the Chinese New Year festive season, lion dance troupes will be putting up performances at dwellings and business establishments. How did the lion dance come to be associated with China when the lion is not native to China? According to Chinese historians, about 2000 years ago during the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD), the Shah of Persia (present day Iran) through his emissaries presented the Emperor of China with a pair of young lions. The Chinese had never seen lions before and became fascinated with these magnificent beasts. It was from watching and mimicking the movements and playful antics of the lions that the lion dance was created and evolved to what it is today.

Chinese lion dances can be categorised into 2 styles - the Northern (China) and the Southern (China). The northern lion has a large head, is shaggy in appearance with red, orange and yellow fur (sometimes with green fur for the female lion). The northern lion dance is mainly acrobatic and is performed as an entertainment with the lion usually seen balancing on a giant ball. The southern lion has a distinctive head and lively facial movements. It has big eyes, eyelids that can flutter, ears that can move and a mouth that can open and close. It comes in a wide variety of colours and is performed to usher in good luck and drive sway evil spirits. The southern lion dance is boisterous and is accompanied by the loud beating of a drum, the hitting of gongs and the clashing of cymbals.

Lion dance competitions of the Southern style featuring daring acrobatic stunts on poles are often held in Malaysia and this is one dance where Malaysia has excelled. At the 8th Genting World Lion Dance Championship 2008 which was held in Genting Highlands, Malaysia; the Kun Seng Keng Lion Dance Troupe from Malaysia once again emerged champions. Twenty-six teams from Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Australia, Mauritius, Great Britain and America took part in this competition. The Kun Seng Keng Lion Dance Troupe from the town of Muar in Johor have won numerous lion dance competitions worldwide and are often acclaimed as the "World Lion King!"

Gong Xi Fa Cai,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia


Multibrand said...

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ANUSH said...

hi ,
thanx for ur valuable comment along with ur cool and valuable info abt the internaional coincidence on Jan 26...Keep visiting my blog
for more info abt world sportz, eventz and happeningz, remembrances, FOTO-SHARING, tech & gadget news and much much more...
i too would reciprocate the same..
thanx once again