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Dunedin set to celebrate Chinese New Year

Dunedin (Thursday, 30 January 2014) – The Chinese Year of the Horse will make a colourful and noisy entry in Dunedin on Friday evening, setting off a busy weekend of activities centred on the Chinese Garden.

Events are set to get underway in the Octagon at 7.15pm on Friday, with a dragon parade leaving from the Octagon and heading down Princes Street to the Chinese Garden.

Toitu Visitor Experience Manager Kirsten Glengarry says that will be followed at around 7.45pm by a dragon dance, traditional entertainment and food stalls to keep everybody well and truly occupied until the fireworks display starts at 10pm.

“It will be an exciting beginning to a wide range of family oriented events at the gardens over the weekend. These range from a traditional tea ceremony and Chinese cookery, to storytelling, tai chi, calligraphy and a wishing tree.

“There is even the opportunity to buy a goldfish and release it into the Garden pond as a symbol of new life in the New Year.”

Entry to the Chinese Garden will be by gold coin donation.

One of the special New Year guests will be Dr Chu Yanli, Vice Consul General at the Christchurch Chinese Consulate, who will be accompanied by Cultural Consul Garry Xu.

Dr Chu will join Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull and Malcolm Wong, the Chair of the Dunedin Chinese Gardens Trust, in dotting the eyes of the lions to awaken them. She will also be saying a few words of welcome to the crowd in Chinese after the Mayor gives his speech.

In traditional southern lion dance, before the ‘lions’ do their performances, the ‘animal’ must be blessed by an eye opening or eye dotting ceremony. The eyes, ears, nose, mouth, leg, forehead and other necessary parts of the lion are dotted by a special trained person. This is done to awaken the spirit of the lion before it is used in the lion dance. In other words, they bring down the positive spirit from the heaven to the lion and give it life.

Each place often has different schools with different ways of conducting this ceremony.

A group of lion dancers normally consist of about 10 people and the performers are often kung fu practitioners. The lion dance combines history, art and kung fu moves. The appearance of the lion, its fur and the costume are often created according to the five elements theory, the bagua and the feng shui to further strengthen its positive impact.

Further details on the weekend’s activities are available on the Dunedin Chinese Garden website.


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