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Sunday, 22 January 2006

A little bit on lion/dragon dance rituals ..

Hmm finally found out what that ceremony i went to the Sunday before EoS is called. It's the 'Eye-Dotting' ceremony (Hoi Gong.. or Kai1 Gong1 in Mandarin i think), which is done to awaken the lion's 'spirit'.

The brand new lion is laid in front of the ancestral altar and its eyes and mouth are shut tightly (we did it with cellophane tape haha). Traditionally, a priest/monk begins the ceremony by chanting prayers to heavenly gods, and summons the spirit and soul of the lion from the heaven down into the lion. In most cases, an honoured guest of high stature or a notable public figure (in our case, it's the head of MCA Cheras i think) performs the "Hoi Gong" ceremony. Traditionally, the lion cannot be used for performances before the 'Eye-Dotting' ceremony.

First, incense is placed on the ancestral altar. Then, a new Chinese calligraphy brush is dipped with symbolic blood or red ink (we used red ink). The dotting begins with the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and tongue, then continues with the horns down the spine all the way to the tail.

A red ribbon is then tied on to the lion's horn, which is a symbol of courage and honour, and signifies that the lion is tamed. The red ribbon is also a reminder for the lion to do only good deeds.

Last Friday was the 'Eye-Dotting' ceremony for the dragon ^^. Only difference is that there's no tying of red ribbon on the dragon. The night before, we had only an hour of practice and we were supposed to give a brief performance after the ceremony. Thankfully there's no major hiccups.. most probably because we scrapped some 'stunts' due to lack of practice (one of it requires half the dancers to jump onto the thighs of the dancer in front .. and i was one of the jumpers O.o - try doing that stunt while holding that heavy dragon.. i kept slipping down >.<)

I feel so 'chinese' right now. With all those chinese martial arts i'm learning and now this. Haha.. next i'm trying to learn how to read Mandarin.. after countless attempts =P

Edit (2.2.2006) - Found out last week that there is a ribbon tied to the dragon.. i missed it during the eye-dotting ceremony ^^"

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