Yesterday on the 28th of January 2018, Victoria Street in Richmond, (Victoria Australia) played host to their annual lunar new year festival…. to the tune of 38 degree celsius weather! It turned out to be a great day with an atmospthere that to me is reminiscent of the cho tet’s I used to attend as a kid. There were plenty of “mum and pop” type stalls offering things that are interesting to see. There were plenty of Vietnamese street food- bop chien, bo la lot, barbecued corn and other aromatic barbecued goodies washed down with plenty of sugar cane. There were children’s games like trying to knock down stacked up cans as well as rides. What I really enjoyed seeing were stalls that were set up with no commercial interest as its core. A lot of these were run by various local community groups raising awareness of different issues but also enriching the festival goers with history and culture. Some examples include the AVRN veterans group to give people information about the South Vietnamese veterans and a chance for people to sing karaoke, or about raising awareness about hepatitis in the community ( hepatitis B being a very common disease of the Asian people). Or the buddhist group with their shrine but also had a xic lo on display where you could take photos riding it and even. And the shop offering ao dai costumes (fair enough, they were trying to sell it, but it would be a great opportunity to girls to try on ao dai if they’ve never worn one before).
I think most important of all, the celebration set a nice background for families to enjoy themselves together during an important time in the Chinese and Vietnamese calendar.
Coming from Sydney, I actually quite enjoyed the festival and the atmosphere it provided. It really felt like the community got together and was showcasing what the locals had to offer rather than a commercial opportunity to promote a corporate brand or to make money.
As bad as it is for me to say it, I feel that a lot of the Chinese New Year Festivals in Sydney have become very commercialised. I am seeing a lot more stalls that could be found in any festival and not just Chinese new year. I’ve seen property groups trying to sell off the plan properties or politicians using it as a way to drum of support or banks offering their latest deals. To me, it doesn’t lend off the atmosphere that a typical “cho tet” lunar new year festival should have.
As a lion dancing fan, the highlight of these festivals is always going to be seeing the lion dancing from the local teams. And today, I got to see two teams perform- Dai Bi Quan Am Lion Dance Team and Jow Gar Kuen Martial Arts Association. I think both teams have some great performers amongst them (lion dancers and musicians) as well as a collection of impressive looking lions. Pair the two together and then times that by two teams and you get a great performance.
On the side, there has been some recent posts on the Chinese Lion Dancers Facebook page in regards to people’s experiences lion dancing in the cold weather, rain and snow! What I want to hear are the experiences teams have performing in the heat!!! Especially as these guys were duking it out in 38 degree weather.
Without further ado, here are some photos I managed to snap.