Sunday, 22 January 2012

Enter the Year of the Dragon

Here be Dragons. Not just any dragons, but the Yang Water Dragon. The Joburg Photowalkers and the Poser Scooter Club all trekked north to the Buddhist's Nan Hua Temple outside Bronkhorstspruit to celebrate with thousands of others the start of the Year of the Dragon in traditional Chinese style. The Water Dragon only occurs once every 60 years so you can imagine how big the event at the Nan Hua temple was.

Matthew and I got here early and went straight to the main temple for some early photographs before it got too crowded. While standing at the large doors, I did not go in because I knew from a previous visit that I could not take photos inside the temple and that it was disrespectable to take photos of the deity but the monk saw me standing outside looking in, insisted I go in. What a monk who does not understand the rules, so I explained to the monk about my camera, he answered, "Today special day, you go take photo" Now I am not one to be given a invite like that twice started taking my shoes off, and again the monk intervened and said "Special day, leave shoe on, we clean after". Okay,now that doesn't happen every day, so I went into the main temple and took photos inside and of the lighting of the candles ceremony all with the blessings of the monks. By that time the temple started getting full so Matthew and I proceeded outside to find the Joburg Photowalkers and the Posers Scooter Club.

It was even more packed outside with more arriving by the minute. After finding most of my friends, Matthew and I went and got some food to eat and did not have long to wait for the fireworks to start, followed by the Dragon Dance and Lion Dances. Towards the end of the dance ceremony I had a chat to the new incoming Chinese ambassador and with who I think was his wife. The performers were from the South African Taiwanese Hakka Association, so trying not to spark an international incident I asked how does the ambassador feel about all the Taiwanese performers with no mainland representatives. He answered very diplomatically that he ambassador for all Chinese including Taiwanese. I was tempted to join the ambassador, Mosiuoa Lekota, the president of the Congress of the People, and other political and cultural delegates who I did not recognise, for tea but thought it best not push my luck. It was an enjoyable day and I have posted photos on my Facebook album, Enter the Dragon. With over 800 photos to choose from, it was hard to select something that would envelope the whole day but this photo of Lucy's string dragon caught my eye. Have an awesome Year of the Dragon.

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