Looking to celebrate Lunar New Year? Fort Worth Buddhist temple festival opens to public
Ever since Bieu Cung was 10 years old, he has celebrated Lunar New Year by jumping on and off 8-foot-high platforms and hoisting his dance teammate on his shoulders — all while wearing several layers of fabric, sequins and fur.
Cung, now 27, is a member of Chùa Hương Đạo’s Hoa Đạo Lion Dance Association and performs the spiritually rooted artform in front of hundreds each year at the temple’s annual Spring Blossom Festival. The dance is meant to scare away evil spirits and bring good luck for the new year.
The Fort Worth Buddhist temple, located near the Stop Six neighborhood, is opening its doors to the public for its 2024 Spring Blossom Festival through Feb. 18. The festival is meant to commemorate the arrival of spring, the Lunar New Year and the first full moon of the year, on Feb. 25.
“Take in the festivities and have fun, because that’s how it should be during the holidays. Have fun with the family, see a lot of new things and hopefully we can inspire people to take part or just support us in some way,” Cung said.
If you go
What: Chùa Hương Đạo Spring Blossom Festival
When: Through Feb. 18 and Feb. 25. See schedule for details.
Where: 4717 E. Rosedale St.
Price: Free to enter. Food and other vendor item prices vary.
For the next several days, Fort Worth residents can visit the temple during festival hours to explore the flower and bonsai exhibition, grab something to eat at the vegetarian food court or buy jewelry or other gifts from vendors.
The busiest time for the festival is expected to be on Lunar New Year weekend, which is Feb. 9-10, said Tue Nhan Bhikkhu, vice president of the temple.
Lunar New Year is a holiday celebrated on the first new moon of the lunar calendar; festivities end on the first full moon of the calendar, typically 15 days later, according to Britannica.
On Feb. 9, the festival runs from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. the next day. On Feb. 9, festival visitors can stop by the shrine hall for a forgiveness meditation and engage in prayers and chants to bless them ahead of the new year.
On New Year’s Day, Feb. 10, the temple opens at 9 a.m. for more blessings and to provide offerings to the monks.
“People will go to the temple to celebrate together, have some fun and listen to the chanting and get the blessing from the monks,” Bhikkhu said. “We really need to have a space for people to celebrate and remember the very important days of our ancestors.”
What is a lion dance?
The lion dance is an Asian tradition dating back thousands of yearsand tells the story of a lion that has to overcome an obstacle before obtaining a meaningful object such as lettuce or scrolls, according to Penn Lions, a lion dance team from the University of Pennsylvania.
The dance requires two people to tell the story bymimicking lion movements to the beat of clashing cymbals, gongs and beating drums. Lion dances are usually performed around Lunar New Year to scare away evil spirits and bring good luck. They can also be performed at weddings, birthdays and other celebrations. The lion dance is not to be mistaken for dragon dancing, which requires multiple people to maneuver one costume.
The temple has been in Fort Worth for over 26 years and serves a predominantly Vietnamese-American community that follows the Buddhist faith.
Each year, the festival serves as a place for people to gather and celebrate their culture with others, said Chinh Truong, leader and coach of the Hoa Đạo Lion Dance Association.
“Even though we’re far away from home, which is Vietnam, here we have our second home,” Truong said. “We would love to keep that tradition alive for the next generation being here and understanding our culture.”
Marissa Greene is a Report for America corps member, covering faith for the Fort Worth Report. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or @marissaygreene.
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