APISC welcomes the Year of the Rat at Lunar New Year celebration

The Asian and Pacific Islander Student Center (APISC) celebrated Lunar New Year in the University Park on Jan. 30 to ring in the Year of the Rat.

The Lunar New Year celebration was open for all students to learn about the holiday and the coming year. The celebration included a coloring activity, information booths from the other cultural centers on campus, a traditional lion dance and a traditional Japanese drum performance.

Although APISC celebrated the New Year on Jan. 30, the Lunar New Year officially occurred Jan. 25. 

The celebration was called the Lunar New Year, rather than the Chinese New Year as it’s normally called, because China is not the only country that celebrates the holiday. Other countries such as Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia also celebrate the Lunar New Year.

As students arrived at the event and checked in, they were given a red envelope — a symbol of fortune in the Lunar New Year. 

The red envelopes normally contain money; however, these envelopes contained information about this year’s animal and element along with a raffle ticket and a small piece of candy.

One of the booths provided information about the Lunar New Year animals and elements. Students were given an activity page — either a maze or a coloring page — that included information on the 12 animals and five elements of the Chinese zodiac. This year, the metal rat is celebrated, and with it, traits and fortunes unique to it, like the seeming ability to turn misfortune to luck.

The celebration kicked off at 11:30 a.m. with Kayla Kosaki, the APISC coordinator, speaking first to welcome students and the other cultural centers to the celebration. 

After Kosaki spoke, two of the social justice leaders — Henry Truong, a mechanical engineering student and Isaiah Baltazar, a computer engineering student — introduced the first performance: an L.A. based dance team called The Immortals that performed their lion dance.

The lion dance performance included an audience participant who held a head of lettuce in the air for the two lions to eat and toss into the crowd. The lions eat lettuce because the Chinese word for lettuce sounds like the Chinese word for fortune, as explained by The Immortals.

The lion dance comes from a few different stories, according to The Immortals’ website. 

One story is of an emperor who dreamt of a protective beast, another tells of a village that used the dance to protect itself from a monster, and the last is of the goddess of mercy who took pity on a slain lion thrown to Earth.

Following the lion dance, The Immortals performed two martial arts-style dances.

After The Immortals’ performances, Cal Poly Pomona’s own Touzan Taiko club performed a traditional Japanese kumi-daiko, an ensemble performance on taiko drums.

CPP’s Touzan Taiko club shared its admiration for kumi-daiko, a traditional Japanese drum ensemble, during the new year celebration.
(Cheyenne Thomas | The Poly Post)

“The group seeks to spread a unique appreciation for the spirit and experience of taiko drumming in the surrounding and extended communities,” Baltazar said.

The Immortals lion dance was the first performance of the Lunar New Year celebration to honor the year of the metal rat.
(Cheyenne Thomas | The Poly Post)

When the two performances concluded, the hosts took a small break before beginning the raffle. Four plants, two luck plants and two bamboo plants were raffled off to lucky winners. Two APISC T-shirts were awarded to students who could correctly answer a trivia question about the Lunar New Year.

The event closed when all the prizes were gone with a wish of luck in the new year.

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