WOKING was monkeying around, in the best possible sense, on Saturday as the borough’s Chinese community heralded the beginning of a vibrant New Year.
Led by Woking Chinese Association Chairman Michelle Wong, an excited crowd defied the storm clouds above to shine a light on the colour and flavours of the Orient in the heart of the town centre.
Rampant lions dissected the masses as a traditional parade signalled the beginning of the Year of The Monkey in the Chinese Lunar Calendar.
Tai Chi demonstrations, choreographed dance routines and martial arts displays captivated the crowd, with each guest able to take home their names beautiful scripted in Chinese as a precious keepsake. Among the many guests on the day was Mayor Derek McCrum who, alongside wife Rosemary, revelled in the delights of the annual celebrations.
The Mayor took the microphone at one point to congratulate organisers on a splendid festival and wished them a prosperous year ahead.
Adding to a soundtrack of medleys was Jingi Liang who played the Hulusi, a free reed wind solo instrument that is very popular among the Dai and the Yi minorities in southwest Yunnan provinces. It is made of three bamboo pipes and a gourd chest; the center pipe has finger holes and the outer two are drone pipes.
The monkey sits ninth in the list of a dozen animals that make up the recurring 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle.
More specifically, 2016 marks the Year of the Fire Monkey, as in Chinese astrology each year is associated with one of the five elements: gold (metal), water, wood, fire, or earth.
The Chinese say that the sign and element of your birth year affect personality and destiny. Element-sign combinations recur every 60 years.
Picture Special in this week’s News & Mail.