Chinese Ma said that she was eager to show us our photos on the wall of fame in the town cultural center. The local people had heard that we were coming to town and had been asking about us and asked that we drop by again to say hello. On arrival, the town elders and the Mayor (center, top photo, smiling) were just finishing a meeting before the Dragon practice was to begin. I wasn’t exactly sure what the Dragon practice was about but it would soon be explained to me.
Ma displayed the photo board and sure enough I can see my photo(s) in the top left corner. I feel very privileged to be included in this community’s hall of fame.
After a while, the benches and chairs were pulled back in anticipation of the Dragon practice. It was explained to me that there are several Dragon teams that compete for the privilege of blessing local businesses and public buildings. On New Years day, the Dragon comes into the building accompanied by banging drums and clashing cymbals to scare away evil demons and to bring good luck.
One of Erica’s relatives was inside one of the costumes and would be performing the next day. We were invited to come and watch the rituals as they went from business to business. A week or two earlier, they sent out invites asking the local businesses if they wanted their Dragon service and several dozen responded. A route was mapped out and the Dragon team would pass by all of these businesses and conduct their ritual. In exchange, the business gives envelopes with cash and gifts of alcohol, sweets and other delicacies.
The practice was quite noisy with a lot of drum beating and cymbal crashing (below). The Dragon team was quite energetic and danced all around the room and I kept thinking how this was a scene right out of a movie. We still had a long night ahead but I was curious to see what the actual performance would look like.
I included the photo below to give you an idea of the practice and spectator areas inside of the cultural center. Quite a few members of the community were present and there was a neighborhood camaraderie that we don’t always find in Western countries. As always, I am impressed with the Chinese sense of community and their interaction with each other.
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