A strange phenomenon occurred at a local childcare centre recently.
The traditional lions from the lion dance troupes have long been revered as auspicious creatures who bestow good luck when they perform. The “Untouchables”, the lions perform gravity-defying stunts as they move to the eardrum-busting rhythms of the drum and cymbals, bowing to the host and audience. Then as the lions lower their bodies onto the ground over the earlier-prepared plate of lettuce and mandarin oranges, the audience wait with barely suppressed anticipation to see what auspicious Chinese characters the lions will form with the orange wedges. The lions will occasionally bat their long eyelashes, or scratch behind their ears while building up the anticipation. Once ready, the lions will get up on their feet, toss shredded lettuce and orange peel at the audience in general, for good luck .
Alas for these 2 lions who graced this childcare centre with their presence!
Initially, the children were subdued by the loud beats of the drum and cymbals. Teasing the children by making their rounds to the various classes, the lions batted their eyelashes and nudged their heads at the awed children. Then, as the lions sat down on the floor to began peeling the mandarin oranges, they made the mistake of being over friendly by tossing out sweets to the children, especially the most senior and hence fearless Kindergarten 2 class.
Mayhem ensued. Children and parents alike went wild; everyone rushed forward and surrounded the 2 poor lions. Children demanded more sweets, and the parents demanded photo opportunities. Lion heads were touched and hit with chubby little fists, lion fur tugged and pulled with curious fingers. I imagine these lions have never suffered such indignity.
After a long while (lion troupe dancers are usually deft with their fingers and are quick with peeling and arranging orange wedges), the lions looked up helplessly, complaining to the Principal that they “cannot move”, nor could they get up even when they were ready.
Only when all the sweets were given out, heads hit, fur tugged, and enthusiasm of photographers satiated, the crowd gradually thinned. The lions were finally able to get up on their feet to reveal their artwork.
Wang (Prosperity) and Happy New Year!
(the words did not last long before they were purposely stepped on by little curious feet, the wedges bursting to spurt sticky orange juices all over the floor)
The lion troupe dancers taking a very well deserved break in the background, while enthusiastic children posed with the lions in their classes. Matthew with his classmates and teachers.
Megan’s class’ turn to pose with the lions. More mobbing of the ‘sacred creatures’!
It was truly an eye opener for me. Having grown up to respect the lions from a distance, I never thought I could see the day where the lions were touched and mobbed. And in a way, I’m glad my kids have the chance to get up close and personal with the pretty lions.
Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful Year of the Snake ahead!