Documentary Photographer Soumadri Chowdhury is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography. From the project ‘CHINESE NEW YEAR. To see Soumadri’s body of work, click on any image.
With the rising tensions across the border and the Indo-China relations turning sour, the Chinese settlements in Kolkata are also facing fearful times under such situation. They are now citizens of this country, intertwining the local cultures and lives with their own, they are all a part of us. Over the years,the city has heartily accepted all cultures and faiths and turned out into a huge conglomerate of unique cultures and festivals. Hence this photostory is to look back at the good times,the times of being together in harmony.
On the eve of the Lunar New year, the Chinese settlements in Kolkata get decked up in string lights, red lanterns and traditional decorations. The locals gather on the streets, dressed in bright dresses, filled with glee and usher in the New Year with pomp and splendour.
Before the clock strikes midnight, the people gather in the temples and churches, indulging in music and celebrations,bursting firecrackers and have a merrytime. The next morning sees the main part of the festivities. The people from the community gather at the temples to seek blessings for a prosperous year ahead. As the sound of the cymbals and the tanggu (Chinese drums) intensifies, a hefty number of onlookers and people gather around to join in the festivities.
A number of processions by different clubs start from here, going around the neighbourhood, visiting the local temples,churches and residences. The otherwise mundane streets brighten up with activity and joy, people of all ages and kind come down to be a part of the festivities. A number of processions by different clubs start from here, going around the neighbourhood, visiting the local temples,churches and residences. The otherwise mundane streets brighten up with activity and joy, people of all ages and kind come down to be a part of the festivities. The procession gradually makes its ways throughout the bylanes, stopping at residences to collect blessings and rewards. Integral part of the procession are the lions and dragons, the young people who wear a traditional mask with another carrying the long flowing costume.
Cai qing, meaning plucking the greens is a part of the Chinese traditions, where the Hong bao (red envelopes of money) are given to the younger ones on this day. They form a human ladder,climbing upon each other’s shoulders as the one dressed as the lion reaches out for the envelope and the money, which are hung down by residents from the windows, along with lettuces. It is an unique sight, seeing the trust and bond they have as they confidently make these human towers.
The Lion Dance
Dressed in lion costumes,they dance on the streets, bursting firecrackers which is believed to ward off evil. The festivities are a sight to behold and appreciate the uniqueness and inclusiveness the City of Joy,Kolkata has to offer.
Chinese New Year, Kolkata, 2020.
All images and text © Soumadri Chowdhury
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