Keeping alive the tradition of celebrating CNY


THE Lunar New Year falls on Jan 23 this year – that is tomorrow.

Traditionally, it is celebrated by the Chinese community with much fanfare. But nowadays, many households are breaking with tradition by skipping the customary celebration, preferring to wait out the festive period at some quiet holiday spot.

For many, entertaining guests and making reciprocal visits have lost their appeal as a labour of love, freely practised by generations of Chinese in deference to the propitiousness of their culture.

In the past, the celebration was more alacritous but now, due perhaps to growing indifference, the Lunar New Year is being increasingly equated with a siesta although, happily, this is still the exception rather than the rule.

Of course, in a free society like ours, no one can be compelled to celebrate but it would be a pity if the time-honoured traditions of the Lunar New Year were to lose their importance through cultural apathy on the part of the Chinese community.

It would be sad if the festival, celebrated since time immemorial, were to be relegated to the level of an ignominous non-event. Culture is central
to existence – without it, one could lose one’s demographic identity and dwell in a state of hybridity.

If the Lunar New Year were considered merely as a temporal break from work, then a venerated culture with spiritual significance, passed down the generations, will disappear forever. That would be a real shame!

Indeed, the Chinese community here should make it a point to celebrate even on a small scale to keep alive their culture of cordiality, neighbourliness, friendship and sharing not only among themselves but also with the other communities who visit their open house.

If there is one thing incomplete about the Lunar New Year, it’s the absence of firecrackers, traditionally let off at midnight on New Year’s Eve and after dinner on the 15h Day (Chap Goh Mei), the last day of the celebration.

Wanton playing of firecrackers is, of course, not to be encouraged. But if it’s done at specific times, people won’t not mind the din all that much. It’s the nuisance of sudden and unexpected ear-splitting explosions of firecrackers that gets on people’s nerve.

For public safety, banning the sale of firecrackers may be the right thing to do but some leeway is also in order, especially at midnight on New Year’s Eve, in the early part of the 15th Night and during lion dance performances. Letting off firecrackers under controlled conditions to celebrate these special New Year activities should be given due consideration as it adds to the spirit of the season.

What does the year of the Dragon hold for Sarawak? On the political front, it does not look very promising. Internecine leadership crisis continues to plague some of the component parties in the ruling coalition and looks like dragging well into the new year without any hint of an amicable settlement so far. The situation can only escalate if the standoff is allowed to seques into a state of permenancy. Hopefully, it will not have to come to that.

This is the year of the Dragon. People born in Dragon years are usually honoured and respected. Their positive traits are being innovative, enterprising, flexible, self-assured, brave and passionate but their negative tendencies are just as predominant like being conceited, tactless and quick-tempered.

Going by Zodiac calculations, this is no ordinary Dragon Year but the Year of the Water Dragon (1952 and 2012) — and water has a calming effect on the dragon’s fearless temperament, allowing it to re-direct its zest and mellow its fire, and also making it more perceptive of others.

Under the positive influence of the Water Dragon, people, especially those in power, should be more inclined to take a step back and re-appraise a contentious situation with clarity, equanimity, humility and compromise for the common good.

Such a stance is especially crucial for the crisis-ridden state BN component parties to adopt in order to break and bin their protracted (and rather tiresome) bickering. The parties concerned should bury the hatchet and batten down the hatches with the general election looming large on the horizon.

Interestingly, Water Dragon people are also said to be endowed  with the acumen to make smart decisions and get along with people. Small wonder a lot couples are planning to tie the knot and make little water dragons this year. Gong Xi Fa Cai everybody.