by Peerzada Arshad Hamid
NEW DELHI, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Chinese community here and other enthusiasts have celebrated the Chinese Spring Festival in India.
Major celebrations were held in Kolkata, the capital city of the eastern Indian state of West Bengal.
The Chinese community in the two Chinatowns of Tangra and Tiretta Bazaar in the city came together to mark the Spring Festival. The year 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit. Rabbit is a beloved animal in China, symbolizing grace, mercy, auspiciousness and good luck.
For thousands of years, the Spring Festival has been a time of family reunion in China.
The celebrations began in Tangra on Saturday evening, featuring lion and dragon dances, fireworks, a food festival and lighting of Chinese lanterns. The participants, mainly youths, had rehearsed the dances and other programs over the past few days.
Even the homes and business establishments received a fresh coat of paint in anticipation of the lunar new year.
To welcome the Spring Festival, people of the Chinese community cleaned their houses and decorated doors with red posters of poetic verses, and red lanterns.
Reports said about 2,500 Chinese nationals residing in China towns in Tangra and Tiretta Bazaar participated in the celebrations.
Many Indians in the city also attended the event and had a bite of Chinese food and delicacies.
"It is for the first time I have witnessed the Chinese New Year celebrations," said New Delhi-based businessman Sahil Ashraf, who is in Kolkata in connection with his business. "I enjoyed the dances and relished the authentic Chinese food."
A huge crowd gathered to witness the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations at Chinatown in Tangra on Sunday. The lunar new year fell on Jan. 22 this year.
The celebrations began with lion dances, which signifies good luck by warding off evil spirits, to the beat of pulsating drums, clashing gongs and cymbals.
Last week, the community organized a heritage walk at Chinatown in Tiretta Bazaar and arranged for a dragon dance and Chinese food.
A giant-sized sculpture of a dragon was installed in Chattawalla Gully in Tiretta Bazaar on Sunday as part of the New Year celebrations.
Residents in Kolkata said that with the Spring Festival, the Chinese community reached out to their fellow Indians by presenting their culture, heritage and food, thereby contributing to the city's diversified culture.
"Chinese food is popular among Kolkatans and we want to welcome people to our neighborhoods to know more about the community behind the cuisine," Dominic Lee, a senior member of local Chinese community, was quoted by media as saying.
Last week a celebration to welcome the New Year was held in the southern Indian city of Bengaluru in Karnataka state.
Since many Chinese people are working in India and have made it a home away from their country, the festival brought them together to celebrate it with fervor and enjoy Chinese traditions.
The Consulate-General of China in Mumbai hosted a reception to mark the Chinese festival.
"In our consular district, we are a big family, all the Chinese are a family," Kong Xianhua, consul general of the Chinese Consulate-General in Mumbai, told media.
"It's very important that Indian friends joined us ... We share the same culture, we share the same visions, we enhance the friendship," he added.
"I've lived here for three years and haven't been back to China because of the COVID-19 pandemic," said Zhang Dongli, a Chinese national who celebrated the Chinese Lunar New Year in the consulate-general here.
The Chinese Lunar New Year, as one of the most important holidays in Chinese culture, is also observed worldwide.
"Civilizations have become richer and more colorful with exchanges and mutual learning," Ma Jia, charge d'affaires ad interim of the Chinese Embassy in India, said during an online concert of 2023 Chinese New Year held last Friday.
For China and India, the two ancient civilizations with a long history, art exchanges and cooperation will contribute to mutual learning and facilitate people-to-people bonds, she added. ■