This is the first weekend after the 15 days of Chinese New Year celebration. All in, including the preparation, Chinese New Year has become a month-long affair. In years when I had a Chinese New Year movie, it would go beyond the one month period. This year I invited a friend whom I have not met for sometime to join me with some friends in welcoming the New Year. He is Chinese, but I realised soon enough that for some Chinese, this New Year is less significant than Christmas, while some others take off to be away from family and friends during this festive period. So, why am I celebrating Chinese New Year with more passion than many others of my generation?
Am I trying to hold on to some traditional customs of being Chinese? Or is age catching up? In my younger days, my parents would fuss over this all important celebration while I watched. Now it is all important for me. It may ultimately be an excuse to break from routine, to meet friends, to be with family. While I also celebrate Christmas with good cheer, Chinese New Year is a now marker of a new year, a new beginning, and mostly, to practise traditional Chinese customs.
As a film producer and someone in media and marketing, recreating and showcasing Chinese customs can be appealing. Now, I want more. As a Chinese, I want to live it. And Chinese New Year is just the festival to live it. With each year, I know and learn a bit more about Chinese New Year practices. In previous years, I would follow through the practices with some degree of reverence and even nervousness as these customs would influence my fortunes for the year. Now I am enjoying them. I relish them with delight, with stricter adherence and a sense of making each customary practice special.
In a way, I am customizing Chinese New Year customs. This year, there more colours besides red. After the reunion dinner on the eve, I was with friends by the Marina Bay having wine, waiting for the fireworks. Around 11pm, it started to rain. It was light rain, but we wondered if there would be fireworks at all. Suddenly, about ten minutes before midnight, the fireworks started. I ran out to watch the fireworks in the rain. When the fireworks stopped, almost like clockwork, the rain poured heavily. It was a memorable experience. What a way to welcome the Water Dragon!
On the first day of Chinese New Year, after visiting my sisters, I prayed to the ‘Tai Shui’ 太歲 in a temple at Paya Lebar. This temple has 60 ‘Tai Shuis’. Being born in the year of the Dog, I will ‘Fan Tai Shui’ 犯太歲 in this Dragon Year. I needed to offer prayers and smoothen the obstacles caused by the collision of the Dragon and the Dog. This year, ‘Li Chun’ 立春 , the day the Water Dragon Year started, fell on the thirteenth day. I offered prayers again after ‘Li Chun’.
‘Renri’人日 was on a Sunday, the same day I organised an ‘open house’ for business associates. It felt good to see a crowd in the house celebrating ‘Renri’. My mother met artists she only saw on TV or in the movies. I was told the eighth day was the most auspicious day to start work, so Homerun Asia reopened on this day. On ‘Yuán Xiāo Jié’ 元宵節, after our ‘Yusheng’ 鱼生 reunion dinner with ‘Tangyuan’ 湯圓, a friend drove us to the Marina Barrage, where we threw oranges into the sea. It was my first time at the Marina Bay Reservoir. This used to be the part of Marina South where I watched fireworks on the eve of Chinese New Year.
This is a weekend of rest after the fifteen days. It was tiring but also exhilarating welcoming the Year of the Water Dragon. Our lives are supposed to flow with the energy of the Dragon. It will be an eventful, exciting year to say the least. So it may not be about waiting for the storm to pass, but about learning how to dance in the rain. 祝大家在新的一年里活得生龍活虎般精采 ! 龙马精神 ! 龙年吉祥！龙年好运！