Galloping Into The Year Of The Horse With Festive Cheer

Sondra Foo, staff of the Singapore Red Cross, shares about her experience at the Chinese New Year celebration at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled

Mdm Wong Siew Lan, a parent of a resident at the Red Cross Home for the Disabled (RCHD), doesn’t feel it is Chinese New Year till she comes to the Red Cross Home for the Disabled to celebrate the festive season.

Indeed, it’s easy to see why one can really feel and soak in the Chinese New Year atmosphere at RCHD. Most of the residents were all decked out in bright red and orange on 22 February, expectantly waiting for the Chinese New Year celebrations to commence at RCHD. This Chinese New Year celebration at the Home is an annual event organised by the Red Cross Youth – NTU Chapter, to bring love and joy to the residents during the festive period.

Ushering in the Year of the Horse with Festive Fanfare

Though the 15 days of Chinese New Year were long over, the celebration at the Home was nothing short of commendable. The Guest of Honour, Chairman of the Singapore Red Cross, Mr Tee Tua Ba and Mrs Tee were greeted by a zealous Lion Dance performance upon their arrival. The upbeat beating of the drums, clanging of the cymbals and energetic movements of the yellow bodied lions as they displayed their prowess, set the audience in the mood for Chinese New Year. The lions then distributed oranges to some residents as they walked round them. The Lion Dance was performed by the NTU Lion Dance Club, which has 23 years of countless performances and competitions under its belt.

Chairman Mr Tee gave a speech thanking the Red Cross Youth – NTU Chapter students for empathising with the less fortunate in our society; organising and practicing for the CNY celebration annually despite their hectic academic schedules. Mr Tee also said that the Year of the Horse bears special significance for him because he was also born in the Year of the Horse.

Chinese New Year would not seem like Chinese New Year without the Yu Sheng. Parents and relatives of the residents and Mr Tee and Mrs Tee went forward to the stage ‘Lao Yu Sheng’ toss the dish, and shout aloud wishes for abundance, prosperity, good health, career/academic progression, harmony and love. They ended with a resounding ‘Huat ah’ three times.

The God of Fortune came with an elaborate head gear, a long black beard, and a red colourful motif dress. He distributed oranges and hongbao (red packets) to the residents to bring them good luck and the fulfillment of their aspirations.

Performances that Captivate

Next up was a wushu performance by the NTU wushu team, established in 1991, the team had won the ITEC Champions in the Traditional Wushu Competition in 2012. The performers demonstrated their strength, energetic fighting moves, strong stamina, muscular bodies and zestful shouts, signifying fury. What was amazing was that one of the performers was an Indian female. Whoever said that wushu is a martial art only meant for the Chinese is totally mistaken.

Some Chinese scholars transported the audience into a surreal dream with their soothing cello, violin and piano performance to the Ode to Joy, Beethovan’s fourth symphony.

Dressed in bright green pants with a bright green top and a bright pink sash, dancers from the Chinese Dance Club, presented a graceful Chinese dance with a modern twist!

There was a lively performance by the Korea Pop Dance Group and a performance ‘茉莉花’ Jasmine by the Chinese Orchestra. The soothing strains of the song emanated from guzheng, er hu and flute.

Performances that Pulled the Heartstrings

But three performances stole the hearts of the audience.

One was the song that the NTU Harmonica Band played – ‘月亮代表我的心’ (the moon represents my heart). This was particularly moving because, our resident, Agnes Chan loves the song. She sang it when the song was being played. One’s heart can melt by just watching her sing to the tune.

The second was a performance by Agnes as she sang to ‘月亮代表我的心’ that the NTU Guitar Ensemble played. At the end of the performance, the eyes of the audience glistened with tears.

Our resident, Goh Quan Yao sang ‘爱因为在心中’ (Because love is in my heart) with the committee members of Red Cross Youth – NTU Chapter. He was really the star of the day.

Raving Reviews from the Audience

Indeed, the performances put up were so entertaining that it’s something that relatives of residents, residents, nursing aides, volunteers and staff look forward to every year.

“I come to the Home to celebrate Chinese New Year every year. It is something I always look forward to,” said Mrs Irene Tan, sister in law of our resident, Tay Shu Fen.

“I am very happy to be here. I was hospitalised during Chinese New Year because of a bad fall. I am happy to be here to celebrate Chinese New Year with my son,” added Mdm Wong Siew Lan. She particularly enjoyed the wu shu performance.

Long-time volunteer, Mrs Jutta Smola said, “I always enjoy the Chinese New Year celebration at the Home. It makes me happy to see the residents really enjoying themselves. Some were responding to the dance and the music.”

Mrs Jutta Simon brought her husband, Mr Stefan Smola and daughter, Anna in tow. They are all passionate volunteers at the Home. They even encouraged their German friend Ms Manuela Salzmann and her parents to join in the fun.

“It’s an eye-opener for us Europeans to see how Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year with the Lion Dance and Yu Sheng,” pointed out Ms Salzmann.

The enjoyment of the performances also resonated amongst the staff. “I am happy this event is organised. It is something I look forward to every year. The residents too are happy to watch the performances and the lion dance. Our young residents really love the various performances put up,” Ms Sandaleka Udayangani, a healthcare aide hailing from Sri Lanka who had worked at RCHD for seven years.

The performances put up by various clubs in NTU brought love and joy to many hearts. It is hoped that each of the performers and volunteers involved will be heartened in the knowledge that their efforts practising for the performances, months of hard work planning and organising this event have brightened and touched many lives.