Festival at OMCA highlights Asian culture
Lunar New Year receives kick-off with a bang!
Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013
Updated: Sunday, March 3, 2013 15:03
The Oakland Museum of California held a festive cultural event for all ages on Feb. 17 to bring in the Lunar New Year, and the Year of the Snake. The event was a large daytime celebration hosting a variety of games and performances demonstrating many Asian traditions. Anyone born this year will be apart of the Year of the Snake. Those born in this year are usually graceful, intelligent, hardworking, mysterious, and charming. “Snakes,” are easily disturbed in noisy, crowded areas and like to surround themselves with the more lavish things in life; they also get along well with those born in the Year of the Ox or Rooster.
The performances began with an intense lion dance in order to chase away evil spirits, performed by the Developing Virtue Secondary School. The dance of the lion is an old folklore about keeping evil spirits away and bringing in good luck for the New Year. The dance was festive and spirited, with the student’s performing as the lion as well as providing musical accompaniment. This was followed by Chinese yo-yo tricks performed by Foothill High School Chinese Yo-Yo Club.
The cultural events continued throughout the day with Balinese dance, magic tricks, and a peaceful performance by the Yuanyuan Taiji Group of Hunyuan Taiji Tai Chi. This form of Tai Chi is very fluid, and seems to tell a story like a dance. According to a Hunyuan Taiji Association, this form of Tai Chi focuses on preserving one’s health. Through the movement it asks us to relax the mind, muscles, joints, organs, and skin. The fluid movement is due to the characteristics of the practice; it focuses on complete body cooperation so all of one’s movements are integrated together.
The inside of the museum was also crawling with little kids and different family-fun activities. There were booths for making paper snakes, snake mobiles, origami, face painting, and a Mahjong workshop. Mahjong is a four-person game, originating in Chine, and it played in a “rummy-like fashion” with tiles.
After a brief intermission of learning the “Gangnam Style” dance with the Korean Performance Group from UC Berkeley, the music continued with performances by EGO Korean Drumming and the Developing Virtue Secondary School. The Developing Virtue Secondary School is a private Buddhist school and the first Buddhist high school founded in the U.S. The 24- drum performance was intense and skillful, and attracted many of the younger visitor’s of the day.
The highlight of the day was a mochi pounding demonstration where spectators from the crowd got to join in and try mochi at the end! A group of Japanese mochi-makers demonstrated the New Year process by pounding mochi with large sticks in rhythm to a nearby drumming crew. The process is meant to bring the young and old together within a community for the New Year. Mochi is a rice cake made of glutinous rice that is pounded into a paste and shaped any way desired. The act of making mochi is a common New Year celebration and is a high energy, fun filled ceremony.
Overall, the Oakland Museum has proven yet again what a cultural and artistic hot spot they are for the whole community. With admission to their events, people have access to all of their exhibitions and artwork throughout. Check out their event filled calendar at museumca.org/events.