Learning from different cultures in the Lunar New Year

Learning from different cultures in the Lunar New Year

Written By Gayathri Anilkumar

The Lunar New Year is a popular Chinese holiday widely celebrated by Chinese communities across the globe. It celebrates the arrival of the spring season and is commonly associated with bright red lanterns, dragon dances, and the different zodiac animals each year. In the United States, several cultural events and programs take place during this time of the year. In Austin, organizers of Lunar New Year celebrations invite all the Asian communities to perform at their events, enjoy yummy food, and celebrate this beautiful spring festival together.

 Natyalaya has supported and been a part of these celebrations in Central Texas for almost 25 years, and students of Natyalaya perform at various events during the Lunar New Year. Be it supporting the Dragon Boat Festival organized by the Asian American Cultural Center or performing at the Buddhist temple, our performers have always looked forward to presenting their art form in front of diverse audiences and learning a lot from watching other ethnic and dance groups perform.

Natyalaya’s founder and director Guru Smt.Vinitha Subramanian shared her views on the cultural aspect of this festival by describing how much she enjoyed watching the different art forms and dances being performed, and how each cultural group had a unique aspect that made them stand out. She said, “The number of different kinds of Asian groups has grown enormously over the years, including Indian classical dancers.” She also adds that “the participation is fantastic and there is more sharing of cultures.” According to her, this is a time to celebrate the differences we have in our culture, yet also identify and find out similarities that the different dance forms may have.

Smt. Vinitha conveys the message to the students of Natyalaya that “Dance is a universal language,” and “when you see a dancer, hear the lyrics of their music, then interpret the meaning of the lyrics, and watch as they move to the beat of their music, you learn a lot, and by looking at their costumes we can learn more about their culture.” She further adds that “we all are the same, the entire human race is pretty much the same,” in terms of our wants and desires despite racial and other differences. To conclude, she shares her strong belief that “we learn to respect other cultures when we watch them.”