Lunar New Year Brings Culture, Guests to DePauw

238

Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian and Tibetan tradition came together in celebration of the Lunar New Year on Saturday when over 50 people gathered inside the Union Building ballroom for the annual festival.
The A.S.I.A. (All Students Interested in Asia) Club organized the event. Customs from each country were incorporated into the two-hour festival, which featured homemade food and cultural activity tables, as well as live music and dance.
"The culture at DePauw is really greek oriented and events like this celebrate other things - global things," said Phil Pascua, president of the A.S.I.A club. "It strengthens the DePauw community through awareness of culture."
Special guests of the festival included a men's choir and a women's dance troop from the Indianapolis Chinese Culture Center Incorporated (ICCCI). Seven men in tuxes made up the choir, while four women in bright red and gold traditional costumes performed dances at various points throughout the festival.
Also in attendance was Geshe Kunga, a Buddhist monk from Bloomington's Tibetan-Mongolian Cultural Center. Kunga conducted a blessing to the festival crowd that he said was dedicated to peace and freedom. A line of dancers wearing brightly colored costumes and large dragon headdresses performed the dragon dance to the enthusiastic audience.
Senior Son Pham, who organized the festival at DePauw two years ago, explained that the dance is one of the most typical and important traditional dances performed during a Lunar New Year celebration.
"The dragon brings luck and health and strength," Pham said. "It's good to see the dragon in the beginning of the year because it means that the people and their families are going to be lucky."
Later, event ambassadors demonstrated traditional Chinese wind instruments. They played melodies for the crowd and taught the Chinese New Year song to the audience in a repeat-after-me exercise.
After the demonstrations, activity tables were open for festival-goers to paint, practice calligraphy, or learn a few words in Chinese, Japanese or Korean.
Lon Hoang, a junior from Vietnam that was at the festival, said he was grateful that the guests came to DePauw to share their celebration.
"The Lunar New Year is a big deal," Hoang said. "It's is a time to spend with family but they're here with us."