Kolkata, Jan 31 IANS | 10 months ago

The Chinese New Year was ushered in here Friday with colourful dragon and lion dancers streaming in and out of decorated residences and by people giving red envelopes stashed with cash to their loved ones.

The essence of the festival is the spirit of renewal and family reunions.

The first day of the Chinese New Year is the most significant day in the Chinese calender. The celebrations last for 15 days and culminate with the Lantern Festival.

Each year is associated with one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. For 2014, it's the Year of the Horse.

"The horse or wooden horse symbolises speed and energy. It inspires us to pick up the pending work and speed it up. However, one must be careful of doing things in a hurry," Indian Chinese Association president Paul Chung told IANS.

Kolkata's 4,000 strong Chinese community - settled mainly in the city's eastern Tangra area - celebrated the occasion with emphasis on renewing familial ties amidst the lion and dragon dances to the pulsating beats of drums - supposed to bring good luck during the year ahead.

"We have lion dancers who entered each house of the community to bring good luck to the household. There were dragon dances too amidst loud drumming. Both lions and dragons are considered auspicious by the Chinese," Chung said.

"But our theme is family bonding. It is a time for reunions. If ties within family are well established, then society is well established. We have tried to bring back that part of our culture and we have succeeded," Chung said.

One of the customs to strengthen relationships was handing traditional red envelopes filled with cash.

"Adults gave their parents a red envelope filled with cash as a token of good luck. Grandparents handed over cash-filled red envelopes to their grand children as a blessing. This is like a cycle. It strengthens the bonds within our families. Our families are very close knit units," said Chung.

(Posted on 31-01-2014)

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