Chinese

Amazing Teamwork by the Chinese Disabled Persons Performing Art Troupe <3

 

“China Disabled People’s Performing Arts Troupe”

by Erisa Apantaku via Jetli

“In the autumn of 1987, a group of thirty disabled people performed in front of crowds at the first China Art Festival in Beijing. BAM! The China Disabled People’s Performing Arts Troupe was born. Thirty years later, the troupe is thriving, having performed for thousands of people in over sixty countries, except for Antarctica.

Headed by president, art director, and main actor Tai Lihua, who became deaf at the age of two. This did not stop her from pursuing her passion of dance, the troupe recently concluded a tour in Germany.

Everyone in the organization has some form of disability, be it auditory, physical, or visual impairment. Visually impaired musicians read the music in braille. Hearing impaired dancers use vibrations to feel the beat. Visually impaired dancers use ropes to learn movements together and even implement white canes and guide dogs into performances like “To See Spring.”

china UNESCO goodwill dancers Performing Arts

Although the scope of the China Disabled People’s Performing Arts Troupe has expanded greatly from the humble beginnings as an amateur organization to an internationally acclaimed professional group. The troupe has retained its same founding ideals throughout the three decades of its existence:

“self-respect, self-confidence, self-improvement and self-reliance, as well as mutual respect, mutual care, mutual aid and mutual complementarities.”

These guiding principles have allowed the China Disabled People’s Performing Arts Troupe to connect with audiences from diverse backgrounds around the globe. Their performances have attracted the positive words of leaders from Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Americas.

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Laba Festival

Did you eat your porridge yet?!?

Today (January 24)  is the Laba Festival ( 腊八) or Rice Porridge Festival in China!  On the Chinese lunar calendar, La is the 12th month of the year, and ba represents the 8th day of that month.  So basically Laba means 12th month, 8th day.  And that day is today!!!  

The Laba Festival (like so many Chinese festivals) is mostly famous as a food holiday, one where the Chinese cook and eat delicious foods like the Dumplings of the Ghost Festival, the Moon Cakes of the Moon Festival, etc.  On the Laba Festival, people make different kinds of rice porridge filled with beans, nuts, dried fruit, etc.  

The next Laba will fall on January 13, 2019.

The Legend

According to the old stories, the Laba Festival was traditionally a day of offering sacrifices to the ancestors in honor of celebrating the harvest season.  I’m not really sure if this was the “upcoming planting for later harvest” festival or a “after the end of winter wheat harvest” festival, none of my students seemed to know either.  However, we do know that in the old days, the word for ‘sacrificing to the ancestors’ was ‘La’ and it happened on the La month (January-ish).  

Sometime during the Southern and Northern Dynasties (1st century AD) the festival was finally fixed to the 8th day of the La month.    The myths say that the number 8 “Ba” was chosen because it was on that day (La Ba – 8th day of La month) that Sakyamuni (Gautama Buddha), an Indian prince, was able to finally achieve enlightenment and rise as a Buddha. Sakyamuni was the son of an emperor from northern India who grew sad when he saw his people’s suffering.  He eventually abandoned the throne and chose to seek Buddhist enlightenment.  One day, starving and tired, a young shepherd girl offered him porridge made of rice, giving him strength to continue on his way.  A few years later, he attained enlightenment on the 8th day of the 12th month.  In honor of his suffering and success, people began offering rice porridge to the Buddha every year on that day.  

Over time, the harvest festival and the Buddhist festival came together in one big celebration. 

Celebration

Image result for laba congee

Here in Dongbei (Northeast China), my students are all wishing each other Laba Day greetings and reminding each other to eat porridge.  The porridge they are talking about is sometimes called Laba Congee instead.  There are different variations; for example, some have lotus seeds and others have peas,  fruit or nuts in it.  Some have all kinds of stuff mixed together.  Apparently some areas of China have meat or tofu in it, and some vegetables, because my friend posted a picture of that kind.   

Because it is the 8th day, the Chinese like to add in 8 ingredients to make the porridge (I love China and their love of numbers).   So they boil it like normal porridge, with maybe some extra sugar to sweeten it. It takes several hours to make, especially the beans which have to soak.  

The first bowl is offered to the ancestors (for those who still honor them — it’s not quite as common here in China anymore, but the thought is there).  Then some can be sent to neighbors or friends, grandparents, etc.  Then the family eats the remainder together. Hopefully, you have plenty!  If there is some left over, it means next year will be bountiful! (Remember this is still a harvest festival). 

Image result for laba congee

Apparently in some of the old times, the businessmen and government officials would give it to the employees on Laba Festival as a treat, but it’s history goes even further back than that. Some say it was originally served only to the ancestors during the Hong dynasty and later became more commonly served in the Song dynasty.  A few say that it is made in remembrance of an emperor who grew up poor eating only congee and later asked everyone in the empire to eat it once a year to remember their origins.    Whatever the origins, Laba porridge has been part of the festival since the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD).  

Some people will also make Laba Garlic  as well.  A couple students I know have posted pictures of the process on their WeChat.  They peel the garlic and add it to a jar.  Then they fill the jar up with rice vinegar and sugar.  Eventually it turns GREEN!  They’ll keep it until the Spring Festival when they eat it for the holiday.  

Image result for laba garlic

 

 

 

 

Fishes and Peppers!

#Chinese New Year’s is upon us! I know because there are fish with red pepers being hung!

#Fish around the new years represents “nián nián yǒu yú (年年有鱼)” which means ‘May you have Fish every year.’  Apparently it is pronounced the same as ‘May you have extra each year.  Also the word for fish is similar to the Chinese word for ‘enough’

Apparently the red peppers repesent good luck and income (I’ve had different responses).  

So the picture means – ‘May you have enough of everything you need in the New Year!

Finding #Love over the Magpie Bridge

Xiān yún nòng qiăo, fēi xīng chuán hèn, yín hàn tiáo tiáo àn dù
Jīn fēng yù lù yì xiāng féng, biàn shèng què rén jiān wú shù
Róu qíng sì shuĭ,  jiā qī rú mèng, rĕn gù què qiáo guī lù
Liăng qíng ruò shì jiŭ cháng shí, yòu qĭ zài zhāo zhāo mù mù

As Clouds float like works of art; 
Stars shoot with grief at heart.
Across the Milky Way the Cowherd meets the Maid.

When autumn’s Golden Wind embraces Dew of Jade
All the love scenes on earth, however many, fade.

Their tender love flows like a stream; 
This happy date seems but a dream.
Can they bear a separate homeward way?

If love between both sides can last for aye,
Why need they stay together night and day?
(Translated by Xu Yuanchong)

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In a magical world in a century so long ago it has faded into dream and myth, there lived a tragic, poor, lonely man named Niu Lang. Most of his family had all died several years before, and those who remained had thrown him out on the street. So to stay alive, he found a small job taking care of some cows.  

Image result for handsome ancient Chinese boy painting

Imagine his surprise when he found out that one of those cows was something special. It actually had once belonged to the God of the Heavens, and it could talk to Niu Lang! They had some lovely conversations, and the cow came to like Niu Lang.Because although he was poor and his life was not good, his heart was still rather cheerful and he had a knack for finding joy in even the difficult times.  So the cow decided to give Niu Lang a little bit of advice. (more…)

Hungry Ghost Festival

My Chinese friend called today asking to hang out. When I asked what was up, she said she intended to go home today but her brother called and warned her not to travel today. Apparently today the province is celebrating the Hungry Ghost Festival.

It falls on the 15th of the 7th lunar month. According to my friend, they believe that today many ghosts are able to travel around the country. This is why my friend couldn’t travel- she has to leave the way clear for the ghosts instead. Instead many adherents will go to the graves and leave lots of food for the hungry wanderers to eat.

Our Delicious Dumplings 🙂 

They also make hand-made traditional dumplings out of long noodles. They are long so you can wrap up your ancestral ghosts in the strand and keep them close to you in the future. Funnily enough, we went to the little Chinese garden here and ran into 5-6 grandfathers out with their grandkids. They had been tasked with entertaining the kids while grandma made the dumplings. To participate, my friend and I had beef dumplings at the local street market and she promised to wait until tomorrow to go home :p

4 Year old and her 6.5 year old sister. The older sister starts English classes tomorrow, and they both knew the ABC song!

Twin 4-year olds. They start Kindergarten this  year and are excellent Bubble-blowers!