Contributed by Jamshed Wadia
If four years back someone told me that I would be living happily in Singapore and find my life partner here, I would probably brush them off with disbelief. It is quite amazing how one’s path in life changes so unexpectedly and you end up living in a place you never thought of and with people you never imagine about. In 2006 when my boss asked me if I would like to move to Singapore from Mumbai, I was quite surprised but I instantly agreed. I had visited Singapore quite often and perhaps a part of me had wanted a life here. So when the opportunity presented itself, I took it. It’s been about three years now in Singapore and I am happy I said yes.
Living in Singapore has given me a great opportunity to make a lot of local Chinese friends. Hence writing a note about Chinese New Year is a great chance for me to pay tribute to those friendships. It’s always been a fascinating journey to experience a new culture, and for me witnessing first hand the occasion of Chinese New Year gives me a panoramic view of the Chinese culture which is so rich in customs and tradition. No other day in the Chinese calendar gets more attention and importance from the Chinese community than New Year’s Day. It’s a day of coming together of families to give thanks for the past year and wish each other good things in the new year.
As a foreigner you can never fail to notice when Chinese New Year is approaching. You see red lanterns and red cloth inscribed with gold Chinese characters hung up on the doors of houses, offices and public places. Huge crowds call on neighborhood shops and malls that have set up stalls selling Chinese New Year goodies, one of my favorite being pineapple tarts. Another great feature which you can’t miss is ‘the golden lion dance,’ which is essentially a majestic parade manned by people and accompanied by the beat of drums. At the top of the parade is an enormous golden dragon with an elaborately decorated body of silk and velvet, and a tail running endlessly upon bamboo stick carried by people.
|PHOTOS: Jamshed Wadia|
For me, the most touching aspect of this festive season is witnessing the coming together of families. It’s really awesome to see how all family members make an effort to gather in one home no matter where they live. All of them coming back with the sole purpose of spending time together and celebrating Chinese New Year. Activities like families jointly cleaning their homes, the preparation of food, the reunion dinner, the exchange of red packets, children keeping awake to bless their parents with longer life and many other customs really contribute to bringing about the togetherness and love in the family. It just reminds me of how much I really miss my family back home.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my Chinese friends a very Happy Chinese new-year. May the coming year bring you and your families great health, happiness, prosperity and most importantly closer to each other.