Firecrackers & Dragons welcome the Chinese New Year - Happy 4715!

Correspondent photographers Richard & Aron joined forces last weekend to capture the celebrations around Chinese New Year in Amsterdam.

Published by Richard on 31/01/2017

As the smoke clears from the strings of red firecrackers set alight the above the temple door the lion dance springs into life. Energetically gliding around the street to the rhythmic clashes of cymbals and gongs. The ancient Chinese tradition is once again underway ushering away bad spirits and welcoming in the new year of the Rooster. Inside the Buddhist Fo Guang Shan temple, hundreds flow through the doors as the incense lies heavy in the air. Some bend and touch the ground, other kneel in quiet prayer as the temple become bustling. Many hang lucky charms with their wishes of health and fortune whilst others arrive with offerings held in red envelopes. It is a tradition being celebrated all over the world and this is in the heart of Amsterdam's China town. 

The lion dance continues along the Zeedijk as the crowd continues to follow its path as it weaves the district entering in many on the shops along its path which have adorned their facades with the traditional lucky red for the period. The action will pause in certain areas as yet more firecrackers are set alight in various locations, causing many to cover their ears yet not enough noise is made to put them off from continuing the parade as it makes its full circle back the brightly colored Temple in which it began. 

The diverse crowd represents the layers of multi-cultures that are embraced in the city. Standing shoulder to shoulder, Amsterdammers of European, Middle East and Asian decent relish in the bright and animated ritual. Mingling with the crowd; locals and tourist alike share their aspirations for the new year. Most tell me that "World Peace, Health and Happiness" is what they have desired for themselves and loved ones. When I approach a Gentleman outside the temple he tells me that he awaits the birth of his first great-grandchild, I am surprised to learn that he is 82 as he appears to be about 20 years younger. "Whats the secret," I ask him... "Lots of green tea... and sex" he says with a wink.

Happy 4715! 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

Thousands packed the street in order to celebrate the coming of the new year. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

Roosters are displayed to symbolize the animal of this new lunar year. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

The temple is a place of worship, where some may clasp their hands together whilst others will lay and pray from the floor. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

New years hopes and wishes are written down to be hung on the tree. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

Gifts and offerings are bought along to the temple, packaged in the lucky red. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

The diversity of the city means that it is a joint celebration of more that just those of Chinese heritage. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

The temple is overwhelmed with the amount of incense that lies in the air. Each new visitor is handed a burning stick to place into the shrine. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

The head of the Lion must be energetic and nimble to be able to dance and chase around the streets. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

Loud firecrackers are set alight outside the temples in a ritual to scare off bad spirits. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

Whilst some of the children are afraid of the loud noises, the colors and excitement keep them entertained. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

Colourful lion dances are performed throughout the Lunar New Year to ensure good luck in the year ahead.

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

The lion is split into two parts, meaning the hind part must be performed whilst bent over over and with limited vision. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

The fire crackers produce a sharp loud bag and then a large plume of smoke following the entrance of the dragon. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

The beginning of the energetic Dragon dance which will loop around the Chinese district. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

The Lion and Dragon are both accompanied with loud cymbals and gongs creating a warning for the spirits.

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

The crowds continue to swell with tourist and locals alike as they try to capture an image of the performance. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

As the last of the firecrackers explode in the streets, people head home to share a meal with thier loved ones. Over the next few days, more celebrations will take place within various communities over the country. 

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

Local Shop owner awaits the lion dance to pass by his store.

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

The remains of the shells and lettuce are laid around the entrance of the temple where the Lion had been searching for the ones that contained money inside.

A City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New YearA City Made By People Amsterdam Chinese New Year

All imagery to the courtesy of Richard Rigby & Aron Süveg.

 

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