A Bow-wow welcome | SunStar

A Bow-wow welcome

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A Bow-wow welcome

Friday, February 23, 2018

BACOLOD. A family of dogs at the temple grounds. (Claire Marie Algarme)

IT’S another celebration that makes us literally paint the town red. The Chinese New Year is celebrated worldwide and Chinatowns in various cities around the world come alive with lion and dragon dances skipping to the beat of the drums. This year, man’s best friend takes the spotlight as we welcome the Year of the Dog.

The celebration is also referred to as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year in other Asian countries because the occasion falls on the new moon between the fourth week of January and third week of February. Each year is marked by one of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac.

In the local setting, the City of Smiles unites with our Chinese brethren as we celebrate the BacoLaodiat Festival. This year’s theme was “A Family Legacy of Loyalty and Honor,” which runs smack to the canine characteristic of being a loyal friend.

The South Capitol Road, site of the BacoLaodiat Chopsticks Alley, and the Lacson Tourism Strip are in full festive mood once again as food stalls, entertaining shows, and various attractions fill these venues. Malls are also bedecked with Chinese lanterns and dog decors.

Revelers also trooped to the Bacolod City Government Center for some selfie-worthy BacoLaodiat displays and happenings.

But true to the Lunar New Year traditional celebration, others headed to the Yuan Thong Temple along Burgos Street to witness and partake in the Chinese New Year rituals and activities.

The temple turned on the colorful lights, complete with dog family lantern and installations, at its Green Square Ground. The parking area was filled with vegetarian food bazaar and souvenir shops.

There were other activities, like the Chinese costume photo booth, wishing trees, wishing wells and incense offerings. Temple visitors were also treated to a San Hao Art and Culture School Cultural Show and the New Year Countdown Program during the eve of Chinese New Year. Prayers were also said at the Main Shrine and the highlight was the hitting of the gong at midnight to usher in the Year of the Dog.

Across the globe, Chinese New Year revelries took place in various major cities. London saw a gathering of thousands of people, which claims as the largest celebration that took place outside of Asia.

In Costa Rica, they held the China’s Gastronomic Fair and martial arts demonstration. Even in freezing conditions, Finland still joined in welcoming the Year of the Dog through performances, lanterns and ice sculptures. Greece, which boasts of its long history along with China, also held its own Spring Festival highlighting Chinese visual and performing arts.

Chinese communities in the United States also held their respective New Year celebrations with activities promoting Chinese culture and tradition, particularly those that have been passed on from one generation to another. New Year activities are mostly done to drive out evil spirits and usher in good luck.

In China, where it all began, temple ceremonies are done, especially in Beijing. Guangzhou has its Flower Fairs. The vibrant Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong is as colorful and spirited as ever with its parades and horse racing. And in all these, every Chinese New Year celebration, be it in Bacolod City or in the US or in Europe or in China, is capped with a bang through a grand firework display that can make you go, “bow wow!”

All photos are by this author. Claire Marie Algarme blogs at http://firsttimetravels.com. Follow her as @firsttimetravel on Twitter and Instagram and like her Facebook page First-time Travels blog.

Published in the SunStar Bacolod newspaper on February 23, 2018.

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