Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The first and second days of CNY and Li Chun (立春)

During CNY, traditionally even though there are 15 days of celebrations, most people are the busiest on the first 2 days....visiting people, going to the temple, feasting and playing cards and mahjong etc... Here's my "CNY schedule"...

On 2 Feb, the eve of CNY, frantic last minute spring cleaning, mopping the floor, preparing the snacks, preparing red packets and changing bedsheets, ironing new clothes (how many of you wore red underwear?!).  Luckily, we usually had our Reunion Dinner earlier on the eve of CNY Eve, hence no rush to complete the dinner. I found this beautiful big beaded exotic piece which buddy bought for me in Dubai many years ago. I have totally forgotten about it! I draped it over my bed headboard. It's red, shiny, and it even comes with a matching cushion. So auspicious for the new year. Maybe next time I will have it framed up as a decor piece.

Photos from Gaden Shartse Dro-Phen Ling
Then every year, at about 9pm on CNY Eve, I proceeded to Dro-Phen Ling for prayers and blessings before welcoming the New Year at midnight! Usually it would be packed with big crowds. This year we were fortunate to have Dagyab Rinpoche and 20 monks to celebrate the occasion with us. There were a total of 3 pujas, from clearing our obstacles in the coming new year, purification and cleansing, to receiving blessings. We brought our wealth vases or wands to be recharged, we brought our new clothings to be blessed by the monks, and we received personal blessings from Dagyab Rinpoche. I also took a moment to remember my guru, the late HH Lati Rinpoche (photo on throne seat), for without him, there would be no Dro-Phen Ling. May Lati Rinpoche's reincarnation return soon. 

Group photo with Dagyab Rinpoche and monks
For those of us still hanging around at about 1am, we had a group photo taken with Dagyab Rinpoche and all the monks. What a joyous way to welcome the CNY! When I thanked Rinpoche for coming to Singapore, he wished me a very successful year in the new year. I love Dagyab Rinpoche's teachings which are clear and concise, and I am thankful he bestowed sacred empowerments for us during this trip.  

Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing the Lama Atisha Protection card
On 3 Feb, the first day of CNY, I visited Amitabha Buddhist Centre to see my precious root guru, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche! Rinpoche just arrived Singapore that very morning at 6am for 2 weeks of precious teachings. There was an one-day flight delay due to immigration problems, but I was very confident Rinpoche would make it for the CNY blessings. When he arrived, many people offered karta to him, and he never missed blessing anyone. As I kneeled down and offered my karta ( I forgot what I said to him), Rinpoche's eyes looked at me intently for a few moments and he smiled. At that moment, I wished I could captured his benevolent face in photo. I was brimming with tears.

Long queues from ground floor to 2nd, 3rd, 4th floor gompas
The turnout was amazing, about 600+ people who wished to receive blessings from Rinpoche. Rinpoche was so kind and patient; he blessed each one, gave advice, gave consultations, and blessed holy objects which people requested. He gave a short teaching from 11am-1pm and then from 1pm to almost 4pm were the individual blessings. The queues were so long that it took about 3 hours to bless everyone.

My smiling Guru
I did not mind hanging around until Rinpoche finished his blessings, I was just so happy to be so close to Rinpoche, to dwell in his presence longer and I took hundreds of photos. A venerable was so kind that he told me to go nearer to Rinpoche. The Venerable even took a photo for me with Rinpoche. Thank you!  Then I rushed home as I had many guests visiting my house.

Beautiful sunrise
On 5 Feb, the second day of CNY, was also Li Chun (立春). Traditionally, Li Chun is the day which the CNY officially begins, according to the lunar calendar. Hence it is an important day.  That morning was calm and sunny, compared to the one month of rain and cool weather. It marks the start of a hot spell. This was the beautiful sunrise from my window, with no clouds. Early that morning, an aunt came and gave us the "New Year Fish". How nice was that to have someone delivering fish to us on Li Chun, 年年有余!

Niece and nephew $miling
Then it was time to go visiting with my family! We usually visit a few places on the second day. My niece and nephew were more than happy to as that meant they have more ang pows (red packets). I think 6-7 houses that day.

House visiting
That day was time for me to feast and make merry. We visited my Grandma's house, as my aunts and uncles' houses. We gathered together in each place to help finish the snacks, haha! We visited an uncle and aunt's house for the very first time since they had just shifted. Kids played cards while the adults ate and chatted and watched movies. Fun!

Huat ahhh!
This was an unusual display at my aunt's house. Her friend from Hong Kong gave her this, a few ginger dressed up nicely, and if you have an eye for art, you may be able to see "rabbits" sprouting. How many can you find?

CNY dishes
It was feasting all the way, we ate and we ate like there was no tomorrow. I particularly like some dishes which we only get to eat during CNY.  That is why it is so hard to lose weight during CNY. Watch out for my next entry of the mouth-watering dishes for CNY. 

See the dragon?
Captured this setting sun on Li Chun, at my aunt's house. For a few moments, the sun was hidden by these clouds and made a beautiful outline. Can you see a rough outline of what looked like a dragon here? I think this year of the Rabbit is going to be a good one. :D

So how was your Li Chun 立春?

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