It's the 'Year of the Horse'

It's the 'Year of the Horse'

The Chinese expatriates in the City are an excited lot as they celebrate the Chinese New Year today. While some of them are recreating the festivities here in the City, others are heading back home to ring in the ‘Year of the Horse’.

Josephine and Joey Khoo from Malaysia, who have been living in Bangalore for the last five years, say that one of the most important parts of the festival is the ‘Reunion Dinner’, during which family and friends get together to share a meal.

“We also prepare a special salad, which is made only on the New Year. All of us get together to toss it with chopsticks,” she says, adding, “Around five to six different varieties of pickles and spices go into it. In fact, I ask my friends, who are coming here, to bring them along.” Josephine adds, “The higher the salad goes, the more the prosperity.”

The New Year dinner is a sumptuous spread which includes seven to eight dishes with the dessert being pineapple tarts. “When we celebrate it here, we ensure that there are some dishes to suit the British palate. We also have a potluck with the people of our community,” she says.

Goh Kee Kok, a resident of Singapore, points out that the festivities mean two days of public holidays. “We celebrate it for 15 days and it culminates with Yuan Xiao, the 15th day of the Chinese New Year. We exchange money which is then put in red packets with the symbol of the animal of the year. Usually, kids receive money from their parents. But as you grow older, you give money to your parents.

The denominations are very important and should be even. There are certain numbers associated with prosperity and good luck,” he explains. “We exchange oranges as well. That means if we visit someone or anyone comes to visit us, we must give and take oranges. This is also for good luck,” he adds.

NG Teck Hong, who moved to the City last year soon after the Chinese New Year, is heading back home to be with family and friends. “On the eve of the first day of the New Year, we play cards, watch television and spend some quality time together. We believe that the longer we stay up that night, the longer our parents will live,” he says. James Goh, a Singaporean Chinese, says that while the first day of the New Year is celebrated with close family, the second and third are spent with close friends, acquaintances and colleagues. Wong Teem Kam, a chef at Yauatcha who is celebrating his first New Year here, says, “I’m not sure if I will be here or heading back home. But it’s going to be fun either way.”

Ema Trinidad, who has started ‘ExpatLife’ which provides all kinds of services to the expats in India, says that back home, the festivities are a grand affair.

“Just like how Deepavali is celebrated with great pomp here, the Chinese New Year is big in Asian countries. The festival is celebrated for a week with each day having its own significance,” explains the Filipino.

Ema, who is organising a celebration on January 31 at Yauatcha, says, “There is a growing number of Chinese people in Bangalore which is why I thought it would be great for both Chinese as  well as those from other countries to experience the traditional Chinese feast,”  she says.

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