The Lunar New Year is nearly upon us, and to get a jump on the celebration, Shawn and I attended a “Chinese New Year Spectacular” last night at Lisner Auditorium. It was a compilation of traditional Chinese arts (some with a decidedly modern edge), including song and dance, plus a little stand-up comedy by the show’s hosts, a radiant Chinese woman and a white guy with a wicked (read: a good thing) accent when he spoke Mandarin.
Parts of the show were political: in one dance number, a woman practicing Falun Gong is assaulted and murdered by four men dressed in all black, save the large red hammer-and-sickle on their backs. The woman was ushered to the Pure Lands (a Buddhist form of heaven) by Guan Yin, the Buddha of Compassion, and her killers find themselves facing an unpleasant fate in the Buddhist Hell Realm.
Nonetheless, it was a great slice of Chinese culture in an atmosphere where, even though I was clearly a visitor, accommodations were made to ensure we understood the symbolism of the various dances and songs.
Still, I’ve found Asian culture to be one of the most difficult things to understand, primary, I think, because it’s so much older than anything in the West. And in many ways, it’s very, very different: Tibetans, for example, have a custom of greeting unknown visitors by sticking out their tongues. I’ve read that His Holiness things this is one custom they could do without!
I’d like to find a Tibetan New Year celebration (known in Tibetan as losar) somewhere in the D.C. area to further my own understanding and, at the same time, celebrate the Year of the Fire Pig with my extended sangha.