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How Chinese in Kolkata Celebrate Chinese New Year

As darkness falls on the eve, all family members collect for the prayer session. The Tangra Chinese are mostly Buddhists(the older generation but most of the younger generation are mostly christian due to the influence of english Christian school) who offer their obeisance to the ancestors with neatly packaged fruits, whole chicken, candles, incense sticks and money! Done up in lights and flowers, the house and the ancestors’ mantle don a divine air as the members stand and pray together holding incense (red again!) sticks, the biggest of them 4 feet long!

Special scribbled paper called Tz Pao, deemed wealth for the ancestors, is also burnt, all symbolizing a means of transferring comfort and peace to the ancestors’ spirits. There then follows a sumptuous feast between 7 and 8 pm that all household folks partake of together, and the scene of the occasion then shifts to the highlight of the carnival – the lion and dragon dances.

After the meals, all of Tangra breaks out in resounding and rhythmic drum roll, as energetic young ‘uns set off holding creative club banners in an entourage of elaborately crafted dragons out of silk, bamboo and paper towards the compound of the local alma-mater, the Central Chinese School. There were clubs like Knights, Warriors, Phoenix, Lucky Star, South Tangra Chinese Youth Club (the oldest club operative) and they all compete in terms of the best costumes, steps and best of all, the amount of Fung Pao or Lucky Money that’s tied at a height and the dragon must procure. As the various processions converge at the school, with deafening drums in tow, the sight of the couple of dancers simulating the dancing dragon or lion and rooting for the money, with sky and earth playing canvas to psychedelic pyrotechnics… it was almost like New Year meets Diwali meets Ganesh Chaturthi!

The celebrations last through the night and ends with the family elders heading for either of the monasteries at Lake Town or Chor Bagan where prayers are followed by vegetarian community feasts. The elders also go in droves to Achipur, where lies the temple of Tong Achi thus eagerly invoking a beautiful New Year.

Ref.  The Sunday Indian