The age old adage Home is where the heart is might just as well be true for the Chinese Community in India, who are celebrating the Chinese New Year with much gusto.
The celebrations began last weekend when the families hosted a big reunion dinner on New Year’s eve on February 9. “The celebrations actually begin a month before the New Year when the entire family starts preparing traditional goodies together.
We visit our friends and family and wish them luck,” says Pompie Hughe, who stays in South Delhi with his seven brothers and sisters. “We do see the Chinese ceremonies on television and sometimes wish we were there, but we have created a cosy world of our own with family and friends who join the celebrations,” adds his wife Nancy.
The family has a big reunion dinner at home on the New Year’s eve, with all the seven siblings, their spouses and children savouring a traditional meal of fish, pork and chicken. “It is the biggest festival in our tradition, just like Diwali is in India. It helps us slow down, take time off our busy schedule and re-connect with our families.
Those of us who don’t live with relatives, call them on the phone and wish them,” Hughe says. The family also visits the Buddhist monastery in new Chattarpur, to pray for prosperity and good health.
But not all are as lucky as Hughe to have their family staying with them in India. “Almost 50 per cent of my friends in India have gone to China for the new year. But somebody had to stay here and look after the work. So here I am,” says Hunag Wu, 29-year-old engineer working in the city. “There is a big party thrown by our office for the Chinese employees. There will be lots of food, drinks and good music followed by some fireworks at night,” he smiles.
“Though the celebrations will continue in China for fifteen days after the new year — till Lantern (end of Spring Festival), we don’t do much in India after the first day celebrations, as we have so much work,” chips in Li Xiang Jun, 30. “But it is time for some shopping, movie with friends, and cooking a traditional chinese meal with lots of meat over the weekend,” adds Jun.
Whether in China or India, some traditions seem to live beyond boundaries. Like the Chinese tradition of giving money to children in a red envelope on New Year. “I send money to my daughter in a red envelope as per tradition. If I see some young children around on the first day, I give them a red envelope too, with money of course,” adds Wu.
What is the Chinese New Year?
The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. Celebrations begin from the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the Lunar New Year.
As per tradition, this is the year of the snake.
A man exits a shop selling Chinese New Year decorations in Hong Kong. AFP/Philippe Lopez