The celebration began with the Lunar New Year Light Offering Dharma Function attended by eight hundred people packed into the Main Temple. The Abbot of Nan Hua Temple, Venerable Hui-Fang, shared the message by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, founder of Fo Guang Shan Monastery, who dedicated his New Year blessing with the message “Heavenly Blessing and Protection”. The Grand Master encourages us to cultivate a mind that not only offers blessing and protection to oneself but also to one’s family and friends. We all should aim to develop a mind that serves others with benevolence and righteousness.
According to traditional Chinese mythology, dragon is a very auspicious yet powerful animal. It signifies courage, power and its ability to overcome any obstacles in its course.
At the courtyard of the Main Temple, the roar of firecrackers marked the start of the colourful Dragon and Lion Dance which, according to Chinese tradition, is meant to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune and prosperity to everybody.
Food plays a vital part in most of the festivities and the Chinese New Year is no exception with over 90 vegetarian foods and gift stalls setup along the corridors at the Main Temple Complex. These festivities remind Chinese people living in South Africa of the New Year markets in the Far East.
To celebrate the spirit of cultural diversity during the Chinese New Year, the Temple was proud to present a multi-cultural show in the Nan Hua Guest House featuring talents such as Spanish Dance, Indian Dance, Korean Drum Roll, Fire Dance and Martial Art. The 3-hours show enthused the audience with a festive, fun and invigorating mix of cultural experience.
Various arts and traditional cultural celebrations were presented to the public, such as Chinese tea ceremonies, dragon painting, umbrella painting, calligraphy, acupuncture and the traditional golden wishing tree.
Other highlights of the celebration included the all-new exhibition on the magnificent traditional Chinese paper cutting and monotype. Paper cuttings, which were usually of symbolic character and meaning, were part of traditional ritual. Today, paper cuttings are mainly used as decoration. They ornament walls, windows, doors, bookplates, lamps and lanterns at homes. At the New Year's Festival for example, entrances are decorated with paper cuttings which are supposed to bring good luck.
The festival reflects the energy and vibrancy of the Buddhist and Chinese community. “It is our intention to promote racial diversity and encourage harmony with different communities in our rainbow country,” says Venerable Hui-Fang.