Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lion Dance / Tarian Singa

Dear Diary,When I was a little girl, besides angpow two things that I looked forward to every time Chinese New Year arrive were kuih bakul and lion dance. I used to call lion dance as naga or dragon dance. According to Wikipedia, people tend to mix up between lion and dragon dances. To differentiate between the two is by looking at the number of performers. Lion dance requires two dancers while dragon dance needs more than two.Lucky for me, this year my apartment’s management decided to invite a lion dance troupe during Chap Goh Mei. When opportunity presented itself, I didn’t hesitate and straight away marked the day in my planner. I so wanted my children to get a chance to see the lion dance up close and experience this beautiful culture, just like I used to experience it in my childhood.When the day arrived, we went down and watched the troupe’s performance from beginning till the end. The lions staged performances in front of the guard post, management office, each block’s entrance and lifts, grocery shop, restaurant and swimming pool area. At each stop, the lions were presented with vegetables, oranges or pomelo. In return, they would bless the area and receive angpow. It is believed that lion dances can usher in good fortune and dispel evil spirits. Excerpt from Wikipedia explains further:
During the Chinese New Year, lion dancer troupes from the Chinese martial art schools or Chinese guild and associations will visit the houses and shops of the Chinese community to perform the traditional custom of "cai ching" (採青), literally means "plucking the greens", a quest by the 'lion' to pluck the auspicious green normally 'vegetables' like lettuce which in Chinese called 'cái'(菜)that sound like 'cái'(财)(fortune) and auspicious fruit like oranges tied to a “Red Envelope” containing money; either hang highly or just put on a table in front of the premises. The "lion" will dance and approach the "green" and "red envelope" like a curious cat, to "eat the green" and "spit" it out leave it in a nice arrangement, like an auspicious character but keep the "red envelope". The lion dance is believed to bring good luck and fortune to the business and the troupe is rewarded with the "red envelope".
Different types of vegetables, fruits, foods or utensils with auspicious and good symbolic meanings; for instance pineapples, pamelos, bananas, oranges, sugar cane shoots, coconuts, beer, clay pots or even crabs can be used to be the "greens" (青) to be "plucked" to give different difficulty and challenge for the lion dance performers. But the difficulties of the challenge should comes with the bigger the rewards of the "red envelope" given.
A lion dance troupe consists of performers and musicians. Performers are dancers who adorned lion costumes and moved to the tune of lion dance music. Sometimes they also perform acrobatic stunts. The musicians on the other hand play instruments like drums, cymbals and gongs and thump out lion dance melody in harmony with the dancers.
Zarra was a bit scared at first but was gradually at ease with the lions. They even came and danced near her once. Imran joined us halfway after he came back from school. I’m glad my children enjoyed the performance.
For in depth information on lion dance, please refer here and here.

2 notes of inspiration:

Ermayum said...

tiap cny mesti ada kat toyota :) maklumlah pnb company run by by china men hehe
tapi kalau tgk they all joget memang terkesima so cepat nampak kaki kaki they all tu so terror kan

oo baru i tau lion n dragon dance difference :)

Unaizah said...

Ermayum - Unai suka tengok lion dance. Samalah kita dear....unai pun baru tau lion dance and dragon dance tak sama.