BEDECKED as it was with red lanterns and cards with riddles, the Old Woking Community Centre was transformed into a taste of the Orient to celebrate the second biggest festival in the Chinese calendar on Sunday.
The arrival of Woking’s Deputy Mayor and Mayoress kicked off a parade of vibrantly coloured lions to signal the start of the Chinese Association of Woking’s programme of events.
Councillor Derek McCrum and his wife Rosemary were special guests of the charity, who proudly presented colourful and traditional performances to around 180 people.
Chairman Michelle Wong told the News & Mail: “It’s really something of a family reunion, but on a larger scale than usual.”
Helen Tai, Headteacher of the Woking Chinese School, added: “This is the second most important festival after New Year – so much so that it even gets an A-level exam question about it.”
Michelle gave the opening speech, which was followed by one from Councillor McCrum.
The councillor commented: “As Woking is a multicultural society, it would be great to have a representative from the Association sitting on the council.”
The event MCs were Jenny Wan, Karen Geo and Zewei Jin, who introduced dances and martial arts demonstrations, and a lantern and riddle competition.
In something of a first, there was also a fashion-show – ‘cheongsam’ – which means Chinese styles.
And, with a new lion in the den, Councillor McCrum was invited to help ‘bring it to life’ with a blessing. known as the ‘Dotting of the ‘I’s ceremony.
The lively festival culminated in a traditional dance that is known to the Chinese community as the Contemplation of Gugin.