Chinese New Year is a celebration of change and the Temple was brilliantly decorated with traditional symbols, fireworks, beautifully crafted lanterns and knots emphasising the colour red for luck.
The Chinese Zodiac was depicted in beautiful satin covered caricatures, each with a personality trait description. These caricatures were lit up at night, creating a cheerful ambiance.
The event started off with the customary Light Offering ceremony in the main shrine during which the VIPs and dignitaries were welcomed. These included, amongst others, Venerable Yi Chun, mentor of Nan Hua Temple; Venerable Hui Fang, Abbott of Nan Hua Temple; Ambassador John C Chen, representative of Taipei Liaison Office in South Africa; King Thokoana Mopeli of Bakwena in QwaQwa; Queen mother Mmathokoane Mopeli and Susana Caputi, consul to Bolivia.
In celebration of longevity, a 103-year old lady, Mrs Pan, was also in attendance, lending a positive energy of long life to the festivities.
In his speech, Abbott Hui Fang said, “During this year, we have tasted the bitter as well as the sweet in life and experienced the warmth as well as the coldness of human emotion. Through the Buddha’s teaching, we have learned not to be discouraged and to reach the end of the year safely. Through His blessing, we have developed the courage to face reality and to overcome dangers and difficulties.” The Abbot added that from this day on we shall extinguish the fires of anger with tenderness and still the winds of ignorance with Truth.
Abbott Hui Fang sounded the gong after which the Nan Hua Performing Arts Group presented an exceptional drumming performance followed by a traditional dragon and lion dance. A myriad of Eastern cultural stalls provided the hundreds of visitors with a selection of vegetarian food, drinks, holistic medicine with many trinkets, ornaments, clothing, art and faire on offer.
Three traditional Chinese Celestial Characters representing fortune, prosperity and longevity handed out lucky packets containing a special message for the year ahead. In true Chinese tradition, the golden wishing tree provided visitors a chance of writing their wishes on a ribbon with a coin attached to it and throwing it into the tree without falling so that their wish could come true.
The Temple, in association with the local Chinese community arranged a number of traditional Chinese demonstrations including Chinese medicine, acupuncture, paper folding, traditional calligraphy and a beautiful wishing bell. Visitors also had the opportunity to attend a traditional Tea ceremony and various cultural performance including Chinese and African drum majorettes, traditional Indian dancing, Chinese martial arts, Spanish dances and Korean Taekwondo performances.
Queen mother Mmathokoane Mopeli said, “I had a lovely day with so many new experiences! I learned a lot about the Chinese culture and hope to have a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the Chinese. The people were very friendly and welcoming.”
The Chinese New Year celebrations provided a vibrant platform for people of all walks of life, age groups, cultures, religions and backgrounds to engage with each other and share a memorable day.