After a 12 year wait, the Year of the Rooster had arrived! And what better way to welcome the new year than celebrating it in true traditional style at Nan Hua Temple in Bronkhorstspruit.
Situated on the outskirts of Bronkhorstspruit, as we get closer to our destination, we are mesmerized by the beautiful architecture which is synonymous with Buddhist temples.
It is evident by the big and diverse crowd, that we were not the only ones wanting to experience the Chinese New Year celebrations.
After entering through the arch entrance, we are welcomed by three men dressed in traditional gear at the temple entrance where we start our journey by lighting incense sticks.
As we follow the crowd, we get a fright as unexpectedly a large number of noisy fire crackers are set alight outside in the temple courtyard.
What would Chinese New Year celebrations be without the well known dragon dance? This is an absolute must see and a true testament of team work and synchronization with the dance crew that make up the dragon following the the leader who directs them by means of a ball.
To our surprise, after completing its dance, the dragon still following the ball, passes right by us and we get a real close up look at all the details of the dragon.
Next up on the dance floor, are the comical Lions who entertain the crowd by showing off their dance moves trying to prove who is better before being greeted by the mayor of Tshwane, Solly Msimanga.
As part of the New Year celebrations, each of the Chinese Zodiac animals are on display together with a description of the characteristics of each. How do you not take a picture with your Chinese Zodiac animal? So we smile broadly and take a pic or four.
Next we walk across the courtyard to the Wishing tree where we make a wish for the year ahead. You are given a medal with a ribbon tied to it, upon which you write your name and wish. The aim is then to throw it as high up the tree as possible as the higher you throw your medal, the better the luck of your wish.
Next up we join the line in the main temple where we light three incense sticks each and say a prayer. Although it is busy and hot, it still very serene and calming.
After all of these festivities, who wouldn’t be hungry? And with all the stalls around there is such a wide variety of traditional dishes to choose from. To all the meat lovers, a word of warning though, it is all vegetarian.
It feels like we are in China with all the hustle and bustle around the temple and stalls. Amongst the food stalls, there are also stalls with a variety of Eastern products on offer, from massages to “Money trees” and traditional medicine.
We find a spot on the grass away from the crowd and catch our breath and have a bite to eat, surrounded by the colorful temple and all kinds of sculptures.
But wait, there is more.
We head on over to the Guest house which houses the temple museum and gift shop. As part of the day’s festivities, there are meditation classes and traditional healing on offer, various cultural dances on display and an array of activities for the kids.
It was truly a unique experience and something that you don’t get to see every day. I would definitely recommend experiencing a Chinese New Year celebration at least once.
Thanks for reading and Happy Chinese New Year (中国新年快乐)!