To new beginnings

To new beginnings

To new beginnings

The start of a new year is usually celebrated according to the solar calendar and falls on January 1, but for those who look at the lunar calendar, the year begins sometime later.

According to the moon cycle, the date of the New Year changes every year, and for the Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese community, today is the day to celebrate that.

Each of these countries have their own special customs to mark the beginning, but they all have one thing in common — the new year is a time to bring the family together and have a great time.

The Chinese expatriates in the City aren’t staying away from the festivities just because they aren’t in China — they are celebrating the various traditions and sharing some delicious food right here.

Recalling some of last year’s experiences, Alice, a beautician, says, “Chinese New Year is a special event for us as everyone from near and far come together to celebrate with great food, drinks and games. There’ll be a group of people dressed as the dragon who will roam around from one house to another to mark good luck. Each house they go to, crackers will be burst.

There’s also a tradition where these groups of dragons will climb on top of each other and try to take a red packet called ‘hongbao’ from a cabbage and try to win the money stored in it. We, as youngsters, always look forward to the elders showering us with money. My sister and I put our savings together and buy something we want at the end of the festival.”

As each part of China has its own way of celebrating the new year, food is a major factor. There are separate sets of dishes — one which is reserved as offering to the gods and another to devour. Each of the dishes hold a symbolisation and each is enjoyed in the same manner.

The Japanese chef at ‘Zen’, Boonlurah Phanchai, misses the celebration back home in Thailand.

He says, “It’s the time when the whole family gets together and has a lot of fun. There will be loads of food to enjoy and each one of them will be better than the other. My favourite is the steamed fish, but my family loves dim sums, chicken pot and so on.” The food served at each table may vary according to flavour and taste, but it’s done in such a way that everyone is served out of the same bowl.

“There will be one pot that’s kept on the table with one dish and we dig into it. The idea is to feel like we are all one and feel united when we are eating as well. I’m going to miss that this year.”

Some other customs that this festival includes are cleaning the homes and discarding the unwanted to make space for the new.

There’s also a custom where the daughters who have been married return home and a party on their behalf is hosted.

However, Daniel Liao, a professional, does not feel that Bengaluru celebrates the festival with much enthusiasm.

He says, “During the New Year, I usually head to Kolkata with my family as they have a larger Chinese community. It’s celebrated grandly over there where people are awake till 4 am and roam everyone’s houses for blessings. While there are many Chinese families living here, there are scattered around the City and it’s difficult for all of us to get together and celebrate. Even if done so, it’s usually a noiseless one. However, since I’m in Bengaluru this year, I’m looking forward to meeting my relatives over lunch and dinner, enjoying some fantastic food, having some good drinks and playing some games.” All in all, it’s going to be a wonderful New Year!

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