Updated: 2011-06-23 16:46
By Naligbe (chinatraveldepot.com)
Have you ever attended any festival? Book through China travel today and experience one of China’s famous festivals. Are you already in China? Try one of the China tours and be at the right place to get the full experience of the festival. The lantern festival occurs on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, usually in February or March. Since the Western Han dynasty, the lantern festival has gained great significance.
One of the most important activities in this festival is watching lanterns. The practice of Buddhism increased on China during the Han dynasty. An emperor during this time noticed that Buddhist monks practiced a ceremonial activity of lighting lanterns to worship Buddha on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month. As a sign of respect, he ordered the lighting of lanterns in the imperial palace and temples to show respect to Buddha on this day. As time went on, the Buddhist rites developed in to a bigger festival in the community and it expanded from the central plains to the rest of the country.
Lantern festival till this day is of great importance in the Chinese culture. Festivals are still carried out each year around the country. The lanterns all come in different shapes and sizes and are hung in the streets, as an attraction for visitors around. Children and young adults, also take part in cultural activities by carrying the lanterns while walking in the streets.
Part of the exciting activities during the lantern festival is the “guessing lantern riddles”. Riddles are written down and posted on each lantern by the owners. If anyone has the solution to the riddle, they are given the opportunity to present their answer to the lantern owner to see if it is right. If correct, the person is given a gift for his or her hard work.
On the Lantern festival, Yuanxiao known as rice dumpling is the main course eaten on that day. As a result, the festival has adopted the name Yuanxiao festival. Rice dumpling is in the form of a ball. It is made up of glutinous rice flour, sesame, bean paste, jujube paste, walnut meat, dried fruit, sugar and cooking oil. It can be boiled, steamed or fried. Another name for Rice dumpling is “tangyuan” which is similar to the word “tuanyuan” meaning reunion. For this reason, eating rice dumpling represents unity, happiness and harmony among family members. Getting the chance to participate in the ritual of the lantern festival is a beautiful experience. It is amazing to have the opportunity to learn about a different culture and understand the reason behind the activities.
Other exciting movements carried out on this special festival include a dragon lantern dance, a lion dance, a land boat dance, and a yangge dance, walking on stilts and beating drums while performing a stage dance. At nighttime, the use of fire brings out the beautiful scenery.
Lantern festival is one of the many cultural activities I will recommend to anyone traveling to China. Coming from a country without a traditional cultural background, lantern festival is one of the many activities in China that I would love to experience again. Booking with China travel, made my experience in the country a very pleasant one.
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