I took my daughter with me to the New Year’s celebration at Chua Quan Am where I did my visit for Buddhism a few weeks ago. I ran into Kim too! This time around, the temple was busy and loud. I walked my daughter around outside to check out the statues and the koi pond. From my previous visit, I was able to tell her what most of the statues meant and that was a dad-score moment for me.
The evening started off with introductory drumming and then the Flower Dance. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a good video because I was sitting right where the dancers started and behind where there were facing the entire time.
After that dance, there was a short (30 min) service. My daughter kept asking me about the smell (incense) and what everyone was saying. I explained that they were praying and likely giving thanks for the previous year and the next since it was New Year’s. The temple handed out paper pamphlets with the words for chanting, but it was all in Vietnamese. If you have never tried to read Vietnamese, just know that your vowel sounds will change – and quickly!
Then came the drumming again and we knew it was almost time for the dragons! What we weren’t expecting was the longest firecracker I had ever heard. At least half of all ~150 people in that room had their hands over their ears. The rest needed their hands for their phones. Then the dragons came in and excitement filled the air even more! It’s hard to describe the atmosphere we experience because, at least for me, it was so easy to get lost in the moment. Just getting to see the wonder on my daughter’s face was amazing for me. And knowing that she was getting to engage in a culture she never would have on her own, well to me that is priceless.
As the dragons dance, children come up and “feed” dollar bills to the dragons for good luck. At the end, everyone had a chance to bull a token treat from the trees near the altar. I held my daughter up and she was able to grab one of the high ones. We got home after midnight and still managed to make it to school/work on time in the morning. Pretty good for a kindergartener!
Link to Chua Quan Am site (you’ll need a translation tool): http://www.chuaquanam.com/
The short video shows part of the Dragon Dance and the long video has the entire firecracker explosion and start.