The year of the monkey is nearly here. And homes in Kolkata’s Tiretti Bazaar and Tangra, constituting India’s only Chinatown, are busy preparing for New Year, which falls on Feb 8.2016.
Houses are being cleaned, lights strung up and kitchens readied to worship the kitchen god. Like always, stickers of the auspicious red and gold dragon have come up all over. It’s another New Year, but this time there is also the promise of new beginnings, a new lease of life for their area.
Lion dance, beautifully lit streets, and sumptuous Chinese food will be part of the Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally organised by members of the community settled in Kolkata for decades.
The Origin and History of Lion Dances
Opinions about the origin of the lion dance are widely divided. The most reliable one is this:
In traditional Chinese culture, the lion, like the chinese dragon was only an animal which existed in myth, and there were no actual lions in China. Before the Han dynasty only a few lions had reached the Central Plains from the western area of ancient China due to the silk road trade.
At that time, people mimicked the appearance and actions of the newly arrived lions in a performance, which developed into the lion dance.
After that lion dances continued to become a popular performance among the people, to pray for good luck during the Spring Festival or during other celebrations.