Chinese New Year, also called Lunar New Year is an annual 15-day festival in China and Chinese communities around the world that begins with the new moon that occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars. Festivities last until the following full moon. This year, the Chinese New Year 2021 falls on Friday, February 12, 2021, beginning a year of the Ox. Within China, regional customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the New Year vary widely, and the evening preceding Chinese New Year’s Day is frequently regarded as an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for every family to thoroughly clean their house, in order to sweep away any ill-fortune and to make way for incoming good luck. Therefore, The day symbolises a new start in one’s life, refreshing hopes for prosperity, wealth and happiness.
(Source: Artist Venkat Shyam)
The exact beginning of the Chinese New Year is unclear, and the centuries-old festival is associated with several myths and customs. Traditionally, the festival was a time to honour deities as well as ancestors.
The Ox is the second of all zodiac animals that the years revolve around. In Chinese culture, the Ox is a valued animal because of its role in agriculture, and similarly in the zodiac, it is seen as hardworking, positive and honest. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived at his party. The Ox was about to be the first to arrive, but Rat tricked Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox. Thus, Ox became the second animal.
The festival signals the start of spring so people also call it the “Spring Festival”. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm across Asia and other parts of the world. Indian Folk Art has some beautiful depictions of the Ox, the symbol of luck, prosperity and wealth this year. In the Vedas, the oldest of the Hindu scriptures, the cow is associated with Aditi, the mother of all the gods and is also said to be the giver of life on earth.
Some intricate works that you can get your hands on this Chinese New Year are Gond paintings by Artist Venkat Shyam, a form of painting from folk and tribal art that is practiced by one of the largest tribes in India with whom it shares its name and Warli Paintings by Anil Wangad as well as Miniature style paintings by the artist Mohan Prajapati. All of these revolve around the Year of the Ox, symbolising luck and happiness.
~Written by Khushi Daryani