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Calexico celebrates Chinese New Year


January 26, 2001|By RICHARD MONTENEGRO, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — Chinese legend tells of a great lion descending from the heavens to bless man with good luck and prosperity.

Come Sunday, the lion will bestow its good fortune upon the merchants of Calexico when the Temple in the Valley of the Sun here performs the traditional Chinese New Year lion dance at various businesses between 10 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

Additionally, the temple, also known as the Calexico Martial Arts Academy at 403 Imperial Ave., from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday will have a Chinese New Year closing ceremony in which academy martial arts students will again perform the lion dance as well as stage kung fu, tai chi and other martial arts demonstrations.

"In keeping with tradition the lion will come from heaven and bless everyone with good luck and prosperity," said Alex Lee, martial arts instructor and owner of Calexico Martial Arts Academy. "And, at the request of the local merchants, the lion will stop at their business or home to share all the abundance and happiness from heaven."


While the two-man lion dances staged by students are for merchants and by request, Lee said the closing ceremony is open to the public and admission is free.

In the lion dance, two martial arts students — one manning the lion's head and another the tail — perform graceful, flowing dance movements to the often cacophonous sounds of Chinese drums, gongs and cymbals.

The accompanying percussion serves to dispel evil spirits scared of the loud noise. Traditionally, firecrackers are set off while the dance is performed.

Lee said his temple has permission from the Calexico Fire Department to set off firecrackers but it only intends to do so at the closing ceremony unless requested by merchants.

Lee said there will be traditional Chinese foods at the closing ceremony as well as special guests. Among those invited guests are Eduardo Auyon, the president of Mexicali's Chinese Association, and Lee's teacher, Lao Soo of San Diego.

The good luck and prosperity said to come with the lion dance is particularly significant this year as 2001 is the year of the golden snake.

"Our teachers have told us the snake means prosperity and spiritual abundance," said Lee.

Last year was the year of the dragon.

Based on a solar/lunar calendar rather than the Western, or Gregorian, calendar used in the United States, the dates of Chinese New Year vary from year to year.

The Chinese New Year started Wednesday and will run through Feb. 8, said Lee.

Lee said Imperial Valley merchants can request a lion dance by the Temple in the Valley of the Sun through Feb. 8. For more information, call Lee at 768-1117.

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